[EDITORIALS]Regional bias is still alive

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[EDITORIALS]Regional bias is still alive

The recent leadership appointments at some government bodies makes us doubt the current administration's will to overhaul its personnel practices. Despite President Kim Dae-jung's orders late last year, bad practices have been repeated, and a wholesale shakeup of the cabinet is coming.

The National Police Agency appointed Park Geum-seong, former commissioner general of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, as the head of the Road Traffic Safety Association. During this administration, Mr. Park was promoted quickly and was named chief of the Seoul police in late 2000. Only two days after the appointment, Mr. Park was criticized for faking his educational records and had to step down. That perhaps is why the National Police Agency tried to hide Mr. Park's new appointment. Why do government officials have to humiliate President Kim with such nonsense?

Although different from the above example, the Labor Ministry also made a serious mistake by appointing Kim Gil-seong, an ex-Blue House official in his early 40s, as an auditor of the Korea Labor Welfare Corporation. The Ministry defended its move, citing the man's ability, but the problem was with the procedure. A ruling party spokesman complained that the appointment was not thoroughly screened, and the labor union at the corporation also protested.

The underlying basis for the criticism is that both men are from the Jeolla region - the hometown of the president. Criticism rises after every such appointment, which is why the president repeatedly asked the bureaucracy to stop promoting officials based on their hometown, school ties and special favors. But regional ties still carry great weight, it seems, so the president's promise appears hollow. Forethought, considering political and social sentiment, is as important as ability when making personnel appointments. Other political promises, such as the president's pledge of bipartisan governance, should not be damaged by these personnel missteps. This is a critical time: The president must form a cabinet and organize the bureaucracy to complete his program. These missteps do not inspire confidence.
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