Costly confrontationThe Federation of Korean Industries, a leading voice of conglomerates in the country, has recently pointed out that despite an imminent crisis in the business world, the government and politicians aren’t setting an overall direction for our country.
The remarks came in a speech written by FKI Chairman Cho Suck-rai and read by the organization’s vice chairman at a summer forum on Jeju Island the other day.
Compared to previous statements from leaders of major industries, the remarks go far beyond the normal level of criticism aimed at the government. Many ordinary citizens have also expressed such concerns.
However, we take special note of the fact that such bold criticism against the government and the political elite came immediately after President Lee Myung-bak and other heavyweights of the ruling Grand National Party denounced big companies by calling for policies that favor the working class as well as small and mid-size businesses.
This could put conglomerates and the government on a collision course in the near future.
Industry leaders might very well feel disappointed and dissatisfied with the harsh criticism given that they have been taking the lead in overcoming the financial crisis, reviving the economy and expanding investment and employment.
And they have good reason to be indignant about the government’s ignorance of what they have been doing so far. They can even feel betrayed by the administration’s attempt to suddenly frame conglomerates as a greedy and immoral group.
Regardless, it is not desirable for the government and the heavyweights of the business world to give the impression that they are battling each other. Our economy has not yet recovered from the global financial crisis. If we want to further develop our economy, both government and industry should cooperate with each other - rather than bicker - in the face of mountainous challenges and a full agenda.
It will be difficult for the government to successfully follow through with its pro-working class policies and support for small and mid-size business initiatives without cooperation from the conglomerates.
Big companies, at the same time, have nothing to gain if they maintain an antagonistic attitude with the government.
We believe that the conflict between the two sides originated in a breakdown in communication. We strongly urge both sides to talk to each other first before attacking the other through the news media.