[EDITORIALS]Civil servants can’t be partisan

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[EDITORIALS]Civil servants can’t be partisan

The Board of Audit and Inspection acted appropriately in investigating some commissioners and officials of the Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths who issued a statement opposing the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun. Their behavior goes against the State Public Officials Act, which prohibits collective political action by public servants. To overlook their inappropriate conduct would have invited indiscreet words and deeds related to the impeachment and electons by civil servants and civil servant unions.
It would also have worsened the already lax discipline caused by the suspension of President Roh’s authority. The National Public Servants Union is already showing signs of supporting the Democratic Labor Party in the legislative elections. Those who breached the law should be punished so that discipline can be restored.
A while ago, the National Human Rights Commission, another organ answering directly to the president, had caused controversy by releasing a statement opposing the dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq. It seems that whenever there is a sensitive national issue, a presidential commission defies government policies.
This should not be dismissed as mere coincidence. We should take this opportunity to examine whether these groups should remain under the direct authority of the president or whether their activities should be taken over by other government or public agencies.
The very nature of these commissions requires the participation of civilian experts who have worked with civic groups and movements. However, once they are employed as public servants, the commission members should refrain from strong political or partisan activities.
The officials of the Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths announced that they are willing to face any punishment for their statement, but it is only a hypocritical move to win sympathy. If they really wanted to protest the impeachment of the president, they should have first resigned from their posts as public servants.
Of course, the president and Our Open Party might be pleased by their actions. However, taxpayers who fund the commissions don’t want the public sector to fall into chaos.
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