[EDITORIALS]Government hiring is at risk

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[EDITORIALS]Government hiring is at risk

The Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption will soon likely assume authority to review the qualifications of candidates for high-ranking government positions. In his New Year’s address, President Roh Moo-hyun mentioned the possibility of this policy change. The authority for top appointments has until now been held by the office of the Blue House senior secretary for civil affairs.
The anti-corruption commission has come under fire because the commission should follow orders from the Blue House. In addition to investigative power over criminal allegations against government officials and their direct family members, giving the power to review personnel affairs could mean that the commission would influence the entire personnel management process of top officials from their appointment to their dismissal.
The president’s intention to reinforce the personnel verification system is understandable. The recent controversy over the failed appointment of the deputy prime minister for education revealed deep problems in the existing system. However, solving the situation in the proposed manner could cause other unexpected problems.
The Grand National Party released a statement through its spokesman warning that the the commission could become an “omnipotent” agency, if it has the power to review personnel qualifications. “If such absolute power is endowed to the [commission], even an anti-corruption commission couldn’t escape the temptation in which absolute power corrupts absolutely,” the opposition party warned.
The government needs to heed the opinion that reforms are needed but not a whole a new system.
Even if the commission takes charge of personnel reviews, it would basically rely on information provided by the National Police Agency or the National Intelligence Service. This is what the Blue House senior secretary for civil affairs has done so far. The failure to appoint a deputy prime minister was a misjudgment in the end. It was not that the government did not have the ability to find about the candidate’s past but that it had misjudged that the candidate’s past wouldn’t pose a great problem to his appointment. If so, it would only be better to improve the personnel review system by making it more thorough. There is no need to cause controversy by adding power to an organization that already has enough power.
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