A career breaker

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A career breaker

We would not like to believe that a daughter of the incumbent foreign minister landed a mid-level specialist position in the ministry due to her father’s name.

The daughter of Yu Myung-hwan, the foreign minister, had been disqualified in the first-stage selection process for the post in July. But in a new round of screening after the job criteria was changed, she passed the documentation stage and became one of three finalists. She was the only candidate to be approved after the final interview. If nepotism played a part in the process, the case demands to be investigated and punishment applied.

President Lee Myung-bak, whose new platform is the creation of a “fair society,” was reportedly upset by the incident and ordered a thorough inquest into the matter. After the hiring provoked controversy, Minister Yu issued a public apology, saying he was sorry that he failed to recognize the case would cause charges of favoritism. Resigning from his job, he added that his daughter’s hiring would be canceled.

But that isn’t the end of the story. No corruption, no matter how small, must be fixed and rooted out. But if, as the ministry claims, the hiring was conducted in a fair manner from beginning to end, Yu’s daughter has been unfairly victimized.

The one that should take the blame is the government itself. If the government fails to promote credibility and fairness in the process of hiring civil servants, it will not only lose the public trust, but undermine the entire basis of the state.

Under the plan to reform the civil servant recruitment system unveiled by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security last month, the civil service exam system will be revised for selecting mid-level five-grade officials, with specialists from various fields to be encouraged to apply for posts. Specialists who will not have to take the civil service exams and be selected instead based on their expertise, research work and experience will account for up to half of the five-grade posts by 2015.

Our society is a highly distrustful and suspicious one. And it is dogged by growing youth unemployment. If selections for highly sought public offices is based largely on outside experience and interview rather than the civil service exams, few will accept the results until the process is seen as transparent and thorough.

No matter how loud the government claims it wants a fair society, few will listen. The government must read between the lines of the public anger over the hiring of the foreign minister’s daughter. It must come up with some kind of countermeasure to prevent a replay of such suspicions.

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