[EDITORIAL] Is Firing a Resigned CEO Reform?

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[EDITORIAL] Is Firing a Resigned CEO Reform?

The background and process by which six presidents and an auditor of public corporations were quickly reshuffled are not convincing. The Korea Water Resources Corporation scored the highest among public firms in both 1998 and 1999, when its management was evaluated, and President Choi Jung-keun was praised as a successful professional business manager when he was given the president's award in a public sector reform competition. The government's explanation is not understandable, because Mr. Choi was replaced only two months prior to the expiration of his term, while politicians who landed their jobs through influence and yielded to union pressure are still in place.

Why was the head of the Korea Securities Depository discharged after he had already resigned from his presidency to move somewhere else and a farewell ceremony held? Further, the selection is said to have been made without the knowledge of planning and budget office officials in charge of the corporation's management. If there were problems that were not made public, there should be more concrete explanations. Otherwise, suspicions that those without connections were hit and that people were fired to make room for others will linger on.

No one would object to rapid and intense state firm reform measures. However, if the government intends to "reform" the sector by reshuffling a few weak people in this way, personnel decisions will degenerate into a meaningless charade. Executives brought in from the outside are the main culprits for lax management of corporations. Retired bureaucrats and politicians lacking in expertise and business management skills have messed up the corporations' management by compromising with unions. The first reform should be removing the outside personnel and fairly appointing competent people.

We will watch closely the personnel being appointed to the now vacant positions. If they are again filled by people from the outside as political favors, the government will be sharply criticized by the people. The government should also set transparent and balanced evaluation criteria and renew its determination to reform public corporations.

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