Tenure turmoilThe fate of some officials appointed by President Roh Moo-hyun, but whose terms remain, has become a social issue. Grand National Party floor leader Ahn Sang-soo has demanded they resign voluntarily.
Culture and Sports Minister Yu In-chon said yesterday, “it is only natural that the heads of culture and art organizations who share the political view of the past administration step down.” Many of the officials refused, saying their tenures are not over.
It is a complex issue where values and reality collide. It should not be addressed as a simple power struggle between the new and old administrations.
The value of an appointed public servant whose tenure is guaranteed and their capability must be weighed together.
There are more than 100 such posts in state corporations and government organizations. The reason for guaranteeing their tenure by law is to free them from the pressures of politics, labor unions and other sources, allowing them to concentrate fully on their jobs.
Until now, that tenure was not guaranteed in reality. Whenever a new president took office, officials either voluntarily stepped down or the administration used its power to replace them. Therefore, many of the officials ignored ethics during the presidential election and chose to support a candidate. If tenure is guaranteed no matter who wins the presidency, such an ill effect can be stopped.
An incoming administration always needs vacancies to reward its supporters. That practice led to insolvency of state corporations and public organizations because unfit people were appointed as leaders.
Even in the Roh administration, whose slogan was reform, many democratization activists were parachuted to key posts at state corporations.
The self-labeled reformists went sightseeing at Iguazu Falls in South America with public corporations’ funds.
Labor unions often took advantage of those “parachuted” officials, earning the dishonorable nickname, “jobs guaranteed by God.” As long as the posts are viewed as spoils of war, replacing them once is meaningless.
We should also remember that some take advantage of guaranteed tenure. What is more important than tenure is how an official is evaluated in the organization. When an official is criticized for his lack of performance, he should resign. Instead of hiding behind the shield of tenure, he should accept public criticism.