[EDITORIALS]Treating Samsung fairlyIn his meeting with a group of business editors from Seoul-based media, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “There have been some problems in the Samsung Group’s stance on the issue,” referring to the revision of laws governing the financial industry structure, and Samsung Group’s corporate governance.
“Samsung has been arguing that the revised laws must not be applied retroactively, but that does not agree with public sentiment,” Mr. Roh said.
“In order to reinforce the government’s principles and status and to allow Samsung to overcome merger and acquisition issues, we should find a new solution over time,” he also said.
His remarks made it appear that Mr. Roh was mulling over finding a compromise position in which the people’s dislike toward Samsung’s corporate governance will be resolved and Samsung’s contribution to the national economy will continue simultaneously.
First, it is problematic that the president assumed an attitude of rejecting the legitimate corporate governance of a conglomerate by referring to public sentiment rather than legal grounds.
The nation’s laws have exceptions for the 5-percent shareholding ceiling limit because the administration wanted to leave room for change rather than applying the laws retroactively. And yet, such legal justification is now ignored and suddenly the exception was referred to as logic to favor a certain company.
If the law has flaws, then it must be revised through proper procedures. It is inappropriate to force a company to be subject to public sentiment when criticism arises although the company has committed no violation. Then, many legitimate economic activities can be called anti-social practices depending on the mood swings of the public.
The ownership structure of a company can be debated, but there is no correct answer for the right corporate governance.
As some civic groups are arguing, whether or not a Korean company can defend its management rights from foreign capital must be taken into account when legislating a law.
Above all, we must not forget that Samsung is one of the main driving forces of our economy. We must remember that the ongoing debates must not hinder our economy and Samsung’s contribution to it, because that will help absolutely no one.