[EDITORIALS]Return of a spoils system?“Because we respected the tenure of public company executives, their discipline slackened. We will expand the pool of executives to be replaced and enforce standards. We will probably change all of them this time,” said Jeong Chan-yong, the presidential adviser for personnel affairs. Some Blue House officials interpreted the remark further. Because the tenure of public enterprise officials is guaranteed, they tend to look down on the administration, those Blue House aides said, adding that it’s time to see some blood.
Incapable or corrupt public firm executives must be replaced regardless of their tenure. It is also necessary to reshuffle the leaders of our state-run firms because they are often criticized for poor management and corruption.
Still, Mr. Jeong’s remark is suspicious. The ruling party has ordered all people who might win in the legislative elections to come forward. It became an open secret that performing a meritorious deed in the campaign will guarantee an influential post. In fact, some senior members of Mr. Roh’s entourage have said they have no problem in finding strong candidates for the elections. “We didn’t realize it before, but there are many posts in public enterprises that we can appoint people to,” they said.
Under those circumstances, Mr. Jeong’s remark makes us wonder if the Blue House is busy preparing posts for the Our Open Party candidates who may fail to win a National Assembly seat. Public firms have been managed sloppily by political appointees, and Kim Dae-jung was criticized for appointing Jeolla cronies to the posts.
The Roh administration’s appointments of public firm officials have so far been positive. It should not repeat the last administration’s mistakes. Changes in those posts should be based on impartial judgements of performance.
We warn against the Roh administration’s attempt at introducing the spoils system. Mr. Roh vowed to respect the tenure of public firm executives as an election campaign pledge, and has supported that policy ever since. We urge him to keep that promise.