Self-reflection for conglomeratesThe policy on lowering college tuition has lost direction, but both the ruling and opposition parties are backtracking from the chaotic scene they created. The Grand National Party is advocating for increases in scholarship programs while the Democratic Party is retracting its call to cut tuition prices as early as fall semester. It is typical behavior from both parties - creating a mess with rash and impulsive behavior with no thought about the repercussions. They have encouraged the student protests and riled up the entire population, and they now want to exit the scene. It is incredibly irresponsible.
Huh Chang-soo, chair of the Federation of Korean Industries, which represents the country’s conglomerates, was the latest to attack politicians for their thoughtlessness on that and another issue affecting his membership. Huh described the move to cut college tuition and withdraw a corporate tax reduction plan as “populist,” saying, “Those pursuing populism do not think things through but act on impulse.”
Instead of handing out favors directly to small and mid-sized businesses as a way to balance corporate growth, he suggested that they receive assistance with research and development to raise their competitiveness. He also said that if corporate taxes were lowered, companies would be encouraged to invest and create more jobs.
The JoongAng Ilbo has also called for lower corporate taxes to spur investment and criticized the government’s policy of encouraging the symbiotic growth of corporations and smaller businesses.
But Huh’s comments are unlikely to get a positive response from the public, which is not receptive to anything the conglomerates say or do, demonstrating that the conglomerates have lost touch with the public. The conservative government has also turned its back on the conglomerates and is pushing ahead with various anticorporate measures, reflecting public hostility toward large companies.
It does not do corporations any good to make enemies. They must try to regain the public trust by exercising social responsibility and developing new technology and business while leaving the niche markets of wine imports, bakeries and coffee franchises to small businesses. They must not exploit their status to steal technology from smaller businesses nor squander money on lobbying to win business. Conglomerates could earn respect through a show of self-sacrifice and modesty. Only then will people pay attention to what their representative has to say.