[EDITORIALS]Blame it on the code

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[EDITORIALS]Blame it on the code

The selection of Choi Nak-chung as the minister of maritime affairs and fisheries and his dismissal 13 days later shows some cracks in the administration’s personnel policy.
The minister has made headlines with his eccentric behavior and speeches since the inauguration of President Roh Moo-hyun. Mr. Roh was right in dismissing him. If an appointment turns out to be a bad one, it is better to solve the problem quickly rather than leaving the headache to trouble you later. Nevertheless, unless there is a fundamental change in the government’s appointment methods and standards, more such fiascos may occur.
The problem is an appointment system that relies heavily on “the code.” In a political system where the president is at center stage, it is not necessarily a bad thing for him to name appointees who share the same political views and follow through in implementing the president’s policies. But before ushering someone into a critical office, there should be a thorough review of the nominee’s background and qualifications.
A personal secretary to the president got involved in some nasty power games in the provinces, and the Assembly has refused to accept Yoon Sung-sig as head of the Board of Audit and Inspection. Those were good examples of the bad effects of putting too much emphasis on getting people with the right “code” in place.
Running Korea is not a laboratory experiment. By his slur against teachers, Mr. Choi managed to set a record for the shortest tenure in the Roh administration. Too much emphasis on singing from Mr. Roh’s sheet music may have pushed Mr. Choi in the wrong direction; the administration shares some of the blame.
We need to draw lessons from Mr. Choi. We need to find a broad pool of professionals and use them in the right place. A “code” makes the government limit its choice of people. The government must review its current personnel policy, and put in a fair system that put emphasis on candidates’ ability and qualifications. Only then can we prevent a second Mr. Choi from popping up.
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