The Iguazu Falls episodeAuditors of public companies went to Iguazu Falls to hold a seminar for reforms. This episode reveals the fundamental problems in President Roh Moo-hyun’s reforms. To reform in the truest sense means to improve institutions and personal affairs to increase the effectiveness of government and to make civil servants have the right attitude. In the early period of the administration, the spirit behind reform might have been this way, but as time went by, reforms went back to customary ways.
Of course, we should not denigrate all reform just because of this recent scandal. The administration’s reforms made achievements too. The custom to spend a lot of money to win an election and the tight connection between politicians and business has almost disappeared. Powerful government agencies’ misuse of their power has decreased significantly. The government’s electronic administrative service system is evaluated as effective and transparent.
But in other fields, reform was only fancy slogans and packages. Many complained that the government hired aides for ministers in order to employ more people from the ruling camp. Many committees under the president’s supervision became larger and caused side effects. Workers at the committee for balanced development planned a trip to South America under the pretext of holding seminars.
People were critical about politicians working as auditors, but the Blue House defended the action and said that outside members who have a sense of duty to the government, are better suited for auditing. But the auditors who used to work in Roh Moo-hyun’s camp now bring disgrace to the president and the government.
The president bears strong responsibility for this. The president has the right to appoint chairmen and auditors of public companies. The office of presidential aid for personnel affairs takes care of actual personnel procedures. At first, the Blue House said that this scandal is nothing for the Blue House to comment on. Then, the office of the presidential aide for civil affairs announced yesterday that it would start an investigation. The Blue House made it clear that the investigation is not about suspicions that the government hires people for the wrong reasons, such as giving old-timers a favor or reward. But this is wrong. Through this investigation, the government must abandon so-called reforms that cover unjust personnel affairs. The president must think seriously about reform in the truest sense.