[EDITORIALS]The Press Foundation rowThe stir created over the election of a new chairman of the Press Foundation is showing no signs of quieting down. In the center of the uproar is the government. Even before the foundation’s board of directors submitted a request to appoint a new chairman, the heads of the departments and bureaus in charge, and even the minister of culture and tourism, commented openly that the election of a new chairman was not made in an appropriate manner.
If things went as was reported, we can’t find any legal flaw in the board’s decision-making process. On the question of whether “re-election” is in violation of the statute, it is generally accepted that re-election is possible if there is no clause in the articles of association that limits or bans a re-election. To a new chairman elected through legitimate procedures, the government says that it is anguished to reject his appointment and forces him to resign by threatening an audit and inspection of the foundation. Even such financial pressures as stopping the government subsidy in the form of public advertisements and local newspaper funds is under discussion.
Chung Dong-chae, minister of culture and tourism, disclosed that the ministry recommended former KBS president Surh Dong-koo, who competed with Park Kee-jung, as the new chairman. The government must clarify the reason why it says “yes” to Mr. Surh, while saying “no” to Mr. Park. If it is vital that Mr. Surh takes the post, why didn’t it persuade the board members in advance? If it tries to change the flawless decision of the board through abnormal means, the government will be criticized and Mr. Surh’s integrity will also be harmed. As the government tries to change things through force, it is suspected of trying to appoint someone who shares the same code as the ruling camp and manipulate public opinion as it pleases.
The chairman of the Press Foundation is recommended by its board of directors and appointed by the minister of culture and tourism. In the spirit of the law that divides the right to recommend from the right to appoint, the ministry can decline to appoint someone who is recommended by the foundation. But forcing resignation from all sides before the recommendation is made is against the spirit of the law and violates the democratic order. If the ministry doesn’t want to appoint Mr. Park, it must reject his appointment for a clearly justifiable reason.