[EDITOIRALS]Find the Truth in Airport Allegations

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[EDITOIRALS]Find the Truth in Airport Allegations

A former executive of the Incheon Inter-national Airport Corporation has charged that the firm's president tried to favor a certain company as developer of idle land near Incheon International Airport. The bidder allegedly backed by the corporation's president was a consortium that included a relative of a ruling party political leader; it failed at the last minute to win the bid.

"The president of the Incheon International Airport Corporation, Kang Dong-suk, ordered us to revise selection standards twice before the bid to the advantage of a certain company," Lee Sang-ho, then head of the development department at the Incheon Internation Airport Corporation, said Monday. One of the two candidate consortiums planned to build two golf courses and a hotel on 2.2 million square meters of land and pay 63.2 billion won ($48.6 million) in land use fees, while the other consortium bid 172.9 billion won to lease the entire 4 million square meters of land, Mr. Lee said. Mr. Kang demanded that the evaluation committee give higher ratings for larger land use fees, Mr. Lee said. When the committee selected the consortium it thought had the better finances and operating plans, following a guideline posted three months earlier and despite Mr. Kang's alleged request, Mr. Kang sacked him, Mr. Lee charged.

"No company received special treatment," Mr. Kang replied. "I only asked the committee to focus more on the profitability of the development plan." Mr. Kang argued that he did not fire Mr. Lee, just suspended him because of what Mr. Kang called his lack of management capability.

We do not know who is telling the truth at this point. But if the evaluation committee, comprised of experts from inside and outside the the airport corporation indeed selected the winning company according to the guidelines, as Mr. Lee said, Mr. Kang should be held accountable for blaming the head of the development department for following the guidelines. Mr. Kang surely must have known about those standards before they were issued, and we do not know why Mr. Kang tried to change them after the fact. But we can also understand why Mr. Kang contended there was a profitability problem with the initial standards.

The opposition party is grumbling that a member of the ruling party was involved. We ask the government to investigate the issue thoroughly and to bare the truth to the people.
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