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A Fair Society Based on Law and Principle

Posted September. 07, 2010 11:21,   


The Public Administration and Security Ministry confirmed Sunday that the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry used preferential treatment to hire Minister Yu Myung-hwan’s daughter. The Foreign Ministry altered application standards and laws to allow her hiring with just a master’s degree and a Test of English Proficiency score. In seeking to hire a free trade agreement expert, lawyer experience was excluded in the qualifications. The evaluation scores given by Foreign Ministry officials to the five applicants resulted in the runner-up becoming the winner. Instead of recruiting an expert with international skills, a favor was granted to the relative of a high-ranking government official. Worse, such nepotism might not be limited to the Foreign Ministry alone.

Board of Audit and Inspection Chairman Kim Hwang-sik said, “I wonder whether the heads of provincial governments have been granting undue favors to hire people since the June 2 local government elections,” expressing strong intent to investigate recruiting scandals not only in the central government but also in provincial governments. Rumors are growing that provincial governments have given favors to the children of officials or taken bribes in return for granting technical posts. Now is the time for the internal government watchdog to eradicate corrupt hiring practices and institute major reform.

The investigation should also target recruiting irregularities at state-owned companies. The debt-ridden Korea Land and Housing Corp. is known to have hired supporters of the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration.

As a former Supreme Court justice, Kim said, “A fair society is a society where law and principles are applied equally to everyone.” It goes without saying that law and principle should be equally applied to all people in the nation. Kim cited three conditions needed to create a fair society: equal opportunity for all people, an open competition based on law and principle, and compassion for those failing or being unable to participate in the competition. The Foreign Ministry not only failed to offer equal opportunity to all constituents of the country, but also stifled free competition based on law and principle. Two of the three elements Kim presented were not met due to favoritism and foul play.

If the nation maintains its habitual routine by asking only the people to be fair, the pursuit of a “fair society” will remain a slogan just like the “realization of a just society” jingle of the 1980s. What Korean society needs now is the government’s initiative and display of a spirit of sacrifice.