[EDITORIALS]Integrity should be guide

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[EDITORIALS]Integrity should be guide

President Kim Dae-jung has decreed that regional and school ties be set aside during a sweeping personnel reshuffle of directors and heads of departments of the government scheduled to take place at the beginning of January 2002. Appointments without these biases is a principle that is emphasized every time a full-fledged personnel reshuffle of government positions takes place. But what is behind President Kim's remark as he enters the final year of his term? President Kim's remark, which puzzles observers by its timing and setting, seems to be an admission that this administration's personnel affairs did not follow the book.

The controversy over the mismanagement of President Kim's administration was centered on the appointment of natives of the Jeolla provinces and those belonging to the Donggyo-dong faction of the ruling party to many government posts and "parachute" personnel appointments through these groups' influence. The Blue House defends its actions, saying they were part of the process of mending the ills of former administrations' appointments of natives of the Gyeongsang provinces to core positions. It also said that parachute appointments were made only in exceptional cases.

The controversy over appointing high-ranking officials through personal connections has long been a source of political dispute, internal party strife and public discontent. The Chin Seung-hyun scandal, which involves the former vice minister of justice, Shin Kwang-ok, and the National Intelligence Agency's attempts to conceal the murder of Susie Kim show that the police, prosecution and security agency did not hold each other in check. Kindred attempts and collusion to cover the misdeeds were rampant.

The image of President Kim's administration advocating "clean government and human rights" was tainted by its failure to live up to the principles of personnel management. President Kim's remarks of regret should be followed by immediate action. Public servants are the only group remaining to serve the president, since he parted from the ruling party to concentrate all his energy on managing state affairs.

The people want to see President Kim's personnel appointments made on the basis of ability, reform-mindedness and integrity. These principles should be applied in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.
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