Shortcuts to Power Should Be Blocked

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Shortcuts to Power Should Be Blocked

I had an awful time driving in downtown Seoul on Saturday afternoon: It took more than 30 minutes to turn a corner. The line of cars in front of me went on for more than a kilometer. After a long time in the queue I finally saw the exit, but then cars in the next lane cut in. Although cars in my lane tried to get closer to each other to block them off, they persisted and I was extremely upset. Why had we waited in line for more than half an hour just to let others who hadn''t cut in and get ahead? Here is the answer: Some people are prepared to observe the rules of society while others will break them.

Everywhere in our society, cutting into lines ahead of others who wait patiently has become an ordinary practice. Park Geum-seong, the former Commissioner-General of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency who stepped down a few days ago, is one of those who has done it. Other people can normally expect to wait six to seven years to reach that position, but he got there in two years and eight months. If he got the promotion solely because of extraordinary talents, there would never have been a problem. But that was not the case. He falsified his education records. He must have been supported by an influential figure or at least benefited from his personal hometown connections.

His promotion was nothing more than cutting in. Taking advantage of personal connections, he skipped several stages of the ordinary processes of career advancement.

Kwon Roh-kap, a leader of the famous Donggyo-dong faction, is facing a difficult time now. It is interesting to hear Mr. Kwon''s supporters saying, in defense of Kwon, that "People misunderstood Mr. Kwon because he arranged positions in the government and public corporations for some ruling camp people who failed to get ruling party candidacy in the last election or those who worked for the president long time, but left without rewards even after the president seized power." They said Mr. Kwon exercised his influence for fewer than 100 people, as if that was some sort of excuse for parachuting his friends and associates into senior posts.

But have they ever thought of the people who work honestly and put in their best efforts to achieve those posts? Unfair personnel management within officialdom is another example of cutting in and affecting the lives of ordinary people.

It has damaged state-run and private enterprises and become a serious obstacle to the success of restructuring. The current state of mistrust of politics and politicians is the result of unfair personnel appointments based on regional, school and family ties. Intervention on personnel management in officialdom is more than enough reason for Mr. Kwon to become a subject of criticism. Therefore, I applaud Chung Dong-young, another member of MDP Supreme Council, who courageously raised the issue of Mr. Kwon, who was his senior colleague. He urged Mr. Kwon to retreat from the front line of politics because there were all sorts of rumors surrounding him, although he may be innocent. There are also rumors involving the sons and relatives of the president. Although these rumors may be groundless, their very existence becomes a problem, as Mr. Chung has pointed out.

The public''s eyes are now on the president''s drastic reform of politics. We all understand that he feels heavy pressure because expectations are high, perhaps too high. However, we earnestly hope that he will eliminate the practice of cutting in which has spread to every sector of our society. People have doubted that there have been shortcuts to positions of power. Unless those shortcuts are blocked it will be difficult for politicians to recover public trust. In addition, protecting wrong-doer, including political wrong-doers, can never be accepted in our society. It is never acceptable to degrade innocent citizens, who silently live their lives respecting the law, as people left behind.

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