Wasted protestingA growing number of interest groups are joining the candlelight vigils to push their own agendas. In the rally that took place on June 10 in downtown Seoul, union leaders of many state-run companies were spotted in the crowds. The union members, handing out leaflets saying, “privatization of state-run companies will increase daily water fees by up to 140,000 won,” chanted slogans urging the government to give up privatizing state-run companies.
Members of the Federation of Public Employees Trade Union claimed they would “fight until the government pledges to give up privatization.” It is apparent that the union is taking advantage of the latest crisis to press the beleaguered government and get what it wants.
The formula behind the daily water expense claim is based on the assumption that people will only use bottled water for drinking, showers, laundry, flushing toilets and everything else. Is there any country in the world where this happens after the water supply is privatized? They simply don’t want to give up their comfortable jobs with permanent job security and generous pay.
But selling state-run companies is one of the best ways to cope with global economic turmoil. The government has already rolled out a 10 trillion won ($9.6 billion) policy package to cope with skyrocketing energy costs and there are countless projects waiting for government funding. Selling the companies will raise needed revenue.
The government tried to weather the 1997-98 Asian currency crisis by selling its stakes in big companies like Posco and KT&G, which in total were worth 21 trillion won. The same principle should be applied in the current crisis. The government should waste no time selling stakes in state-run companies to weed out slack management and shut down companies whose roles are no longer needed in society.
More and more incomprehensible mishaps are emerging in the chaotic political situation. Why should candlelight vigils protect the rights of KBS, which has long been begging for state funds to fill its ever-growing deficit? Countless statistics have confirmed that the money spent by state-run companies far outpaces private sector companies. Why do they voice their opposition to the government more loudly than ordinary people?
State-run companies have been spending lavishly for the past decade while ordinary people are squeezing their wallets tighter than ever. There is no reason to light the candles for them.