[EDITORIALS]Hynix a political football

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[EDITORIALS]Hynix a political football

How to handle debt-stricken Hynix Semiconductor Inc. has become a political issue in the June 13 local elections. Talks among Hynix, its creditors and Micron Technology, Inc., a U.S. chipmaker, collapsed early last month. We worry that politicians, not the parties concerned, are trying to solve the problem.

This intervention is most clear in Gyeonggi and North Chungcheong provinces, where Hynix has production plants. Candidates of the Grand National Party and the Millennium Democratic Party clash over almost all other issues, going so far as to launch personal attacks on each other. But they are of one mind about Hynix: They vow that the ailing firm must survive independently.

Jin Nyum, an MDP candidate for governor of Gyeonggi province, issued a joint statement with the firm's labor union at the Hynix plant, saying he supports the company's "independent survival in principle." He pushed for the sale of Hynix to the U.S. chipmaker when he was finance and economy minister. The votes of more than 100,000 workers at Hynix and its suppliers may be enough to determine the outcome of the June 13 race. The problem is, however, that the candidates' calls for the company's "independent survival" are nothing more than election slogans, lacking specific ideas for keeping it afloat. As a result, they are making the Hynix issue even more complicated. The government and creditor banks, which vowed to try again to sell the firm to local or overseas chipmakers just one month ago, are now silent. The GNP has proposed that the government and lenders put together a new bailout package for Hynix, although the party criticized the government's earlier efforts in that direction.

Because the Hynix board has voted against the sale to a foreign firm of its chip-making operations, there is no clear-cut solution for the firm's troubles, but the longer the problem drags on, the more money will be lost. International semiconductor prices are unstable, and Hynix is getting weaker because it has no money for new facilities. Hynix is paying 1.2 billion won ($980,000) in interest every day. Will politicians share that burden after the elections? If they cannot, they should not play politics with Hynix's fate.
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