[EDITORIAL] A Call for Proper HiringIn a cabinet meeting on Monday, President Kim Dae-jung said, "Personnel decisions must not be based on regional or school connections or on personal relations," and emphasized his point by adding, "Be prepared to suffer the consequences if it becomes known that any of you have either made requests for special consideration for someone seeking a job or accepted such requests." Just before this, Prime Minister Lee Han-dong stated that he would overhaul the administration''s human resources management system so as to ensure that prejudices about region or school did not enter into personnel decisions, and the government had already announced that one of its 20 priority tasks for this year will be to limit the number of people from any particular region or school in important posts.
In view of the discontent in the civil service and at state-run corporations brought about by regionally prejudiced hiring and by filling high-level openings with outsiders, and considering the increasing social problems and economic losses such practices have been causing, we welcome this measure as timely and appropriate. This problem has been pointed out many times before and proposals have been made to improve the situation, but little has come of them. Dropping former officials into management positions at state-run operations has been an especially serious obstacle to reforming the public utility sector. Supposedly this problem is not as bad as it once was, yet during this administration about 82 percent of appointments to the post of president at 13 government-invested organizations are former politicians and government officials.
This is not to say that former politicians and government officials should be absolutely barred from such jobs, but in most cases in which the appointee''s management capabilities were unproven there has been strong opposition on the part of the labor unions, forcing the appointee to promise generous pay raises, and operations have been poorly run. We have heard promises to clean up this appointment act over and over. If our leaders are serious, they will begin by reviewing the performance of those they''ve appointed so far and reassigning posts where necessary. Let us take President Kim''s words to heart.