[EDITORIALS]Stop the Chohung delay

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[EDITORIALS]Stop the Chohung delay

The government and the management and labor of Chohung Bank must all share the responsibility for the delays in selling the bank, which has been on government life support to the tune of 2.7 trillion won ($2.2 billion) since the 1997-1998 financial crisis. The purpose of the sale must be to recover as much taxpayers' money as possible, but the union has resolved to violence to block the sale and the government and the bank's management have shied away from doing what is necessary. The public, whose money was used for the bailout, is the butt of this joke.

Four consortiums, domestic and foreign, are interested in buying the bank. The government's original schedule was to have had due diligence completed and a primary negotiating partner selected before the end of this month. The union stole some of the bank's original documents, so the due diligence inspections cannot go on.

Labor says it does not oppose the sale, only a "shoddy sale." They say the bank's restructuring has made it stronger, and with time, the sale price can be higher. Why, then, is labor trying to block the inspection by potential buyers that would show the bank's rising profitability and make it worth more to a buyer? The union's illegal tactics are making the bank depreciate.

Labor wants the sale postponed until after the next administration comes into office. That is rather silly, because even if a priority negotiating partner is named now, the sale will not be completed before the new administration is in office. Nothing will be different in the next administration. But as we can see from the examples of Daewoo Motor and Hanbo Steel, delaying the sale means a bigger risk of a lower price, a financial loss for the general public.

Though belatedly, the government now says it will take legal action, civil and criminal, against labor and management at Chohung. The government must use this matter as an opportunity to set a precedent of administering laws strictly and impartially.

The role of the government does not change no matter which administration is in office.

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