[EDITORIALS]Playing the regional cardThe specter of regionalism, which has haunted us for 30 years, is back. There are claims that natives of the Honam region have been systematically excluded from top posts in the prosecutors office, the police and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Government Administration. There are also claims that regional projects have been removed from the new government’s priority agenda.
The government is at fault if it allows such accusations to continue. If no mistaken personnel decisions need correcting, the government should explain convincingly. To be evasive in this unproductive but growing controversy is to feed it ― hardly what the government wants to do. First it explained that there were no Honam natives to promote because all had been promoted rapidly in the last administration. Then the Blue House personnel adviser admitted that there had been “a slight concentration” of top appointments for natives from certain regions. The home affairs minister even apologized for “not taking politics into consideration” in personnel decisions. Such statements only inflame the controversy.
Even more striking is the charge by government officials that political motives underlie the controversy. A Blue House adviser said that two or three “Honam-based politicians are misusing regional sentiments.” It is a shame to think that legislators of the government party would try to stir regional feelings for their own political purposes and interests. The adviser should publicly name those legislators and present his evidence.
Another suspicion is that manipulation of regional sentiments is a government-party strategy for next year’s general elections. The opposition party describes a two-sided calculation by which government legislators first emphasize the Honam region’s relative mistreatment in order to win votes in the rival Yeongnam region, and then woo Honam votes by mollifying that region. To avoid misunderstandings, the government should practice a more transparent personnel management policy and show a clear attitude on the discrimination claims by Honam natives.