The FKI has growing painsThe Federation of Korean Industries failed to appoint a chairman at its general meeting for the first time since its establishment because the committee to prepare the elections couldn’t agree on the candidates.
An emergency meeting is scheduled in March to appoint a new chairman, but there is no guarantee that an appropriate candidate will be nominated.
The conflict among federation members doesn’t look like it will be settled in the near future. One of the most influential interest groups representing industries is without a leader. It all started when Kang Shin-ho, the former chairman and head of Dong-A Pharmaceuticals Co., stepped down after his second term rather than accepting a third. Or maybe it was before Mr. Kang’s era that the status and power of the federation began declining.
If the federation, a voluntary group, cannot properly appoint a leader, it seems almost impossible that it can suggest visions for the country’s economy. To expect the federation to play an important role in developing better policies for the government to pursue is unrealistic.
As it stands now, the federation won’t have the energy to form a consensus among industries and criticize the government.
It may be better to entirely rethink the strategies of the organization and not just linger on who will be the chairman. More in-depth measures, such as re-evaluating the need for the group’s existence, must be taken in a situation like this.
In the past the FKI had a healthy role in expanding Korea’s exports and developing the economy, but it also has the negative image of conveying the government’s unlawful demand for funds from its member companies each time a new president entered the Blue House. The monetary gap between the member companies also has widened, which makes their interests differ. This is also part of the reason for the dispute.
The role it still needs to play is that of a think tank that can promote the free market and advocate the economic community. Instead of remaining a representative of large conglomerates, it should find a way to function like the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute, which present visions and policies to the government.
Some responsibilities may be acting partly as an educational institute teaching free market theory or working as a friendship club for influential people in the industries.
A successful transformation is expected.