The other foot

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The other foot

A series of allegations about plagiarism and real estate speculation have been aimed at the incoming administration’s cabinet members and senior Blue House secretary-designates. The United Democratic Party and other opposition parties said they will strengthen attacks on the incoming administration, signaling a dispute.
At this point, we want to emphasize that once again, the verification of a senior public servant’s qualifications must follow reasonable and consistent standards.
First, Park Mi-seok, designated as the senior secretary for social policy, is accused of plagiarism. If her paper is undisputably plagiarized according to normal academic standards, it is only natural that she steps down. A person who does not respect the most basic academic ethics must never advise the president.
The next issue is allegations of real estate speculation. The accusations are leveled against those selected to be in the cabinet, in particular. Their average wealth is 3.9 billion won ($4.1 million), and 12 of the 15 own more than two pieces of property, including apartments and officetels. That has already resulted in critics’ claims that the cabinet is composed of people who became rich by buying real estate in southern Seoul.
We, however, disagree that they should be criticized for being wealthy or that they should be accused of real estate speculation because they own many properties. It is illogical to say that those buying stocks are investors, while those who purchase real estate are speculators and immoral. Of course, those who violated the law by faking addresses and evading taxes with forged contracts must be held accountable. Such violators are unfit to be ministers.
The Lee Myung-bak administration will have to remember that a candidate with a multiple number of houses, although no legal violation was committed, will likely offend public sentiment. The administration must try to understand the people’s feelings because it is hard for average families to buy a house even if they save their entire lives.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the Grand National Party should remember that people are watching to see if they will use the same strict standards to verify minister appointees’ qualifications that were applied over against the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations. Because the Grand Nationals raised suspicions about plagiarism and real estate speculation, seven people stepped down or were disqualified from minister and prime minister posts at that time.
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