[EDITORIALS]Blue House hiring is flawedChoi Young-do, the president of the National Human Rights Commission announced his resignation on Saturday. Mr. Choi bought a plot of agricultural land 20 years ago and allegedly registered it as his address without actually living on the land. Mr. Choi’s case is similar to that of the recently resigned Finance Minister Lee Hun-jai. These two cases show how much stricter public expectations of ethical behavior on the part of high-ranking officials have become.
Mr. Choi may have an excuse. With a career as the president of the human rights commission of the National Bar Association and the president of Minbyun-Lawyers for a Democratic Society shows, Mr. Choi has lived his adult life as a human rights lawyer and a civic activist. He once bought some 1,500 clay pots and dishes of archeological value that were about to be sold overseas and then donated them to the National Museum. However, some public posts require the strictest standard of ethical conduct. The president of the Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission are two such public posts. A person with a marred ethical record cannot talk about protecting the human rights of the socially weak or advocate the integrity of public officials. It seems only right that Mr. Choi step back from his initial position of trying to hold on to his job.
The real problem is the Blue House’s personnel evaluation system. Moon Jae-in, the presidential senior secretary for civil affairs, explained that while the fact that Mr. Choi had falsely registered his address was verified during the personnel evaluation process, it was considered to be of less importance than his devoted contribution to society. Mr. Moon’s remark is a confession that there had been a misjudgment on part of the personnel evaluation team in the Blue House. Moreover, hasn’t the Roh administration declared that it would stop real estate speculation at all costs? It is incomprehensible how the president could have appointed a candidate he knew to have been involved in a murky real estate transaction to the post of financial minister in charge of cracking down on such speculation, and a candidate who falsely registered his address to the post of human rights commission president, which requires a most strict ethical standard.
We cannot expect all public officials to be saints. However, we should at least exclude candidates with decisive faults.