Poke a hole in the parachute

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Poke a hole in the parachute

President Park Geun-hye and others have been highly critical of former President Lee Myung-bak’s favoritism in appointments for major posts in the government. Lee rewarded many who helped him rise to power with chief executive seats in state and public enterprises. The parachute appointments dogged Lee throughout his term. Park vowed to end the practice of making poor appointment judgments out of nepotism. Since Park is known to keep her word, we believed this administration would be different.

But Park may have been all talk as seen in the nomination of the chairman of the Korea Development Bank Financial Group, a government-owned entity. The government advocates that the choice was made in consideration of professionalism and congruity with the government’s appointment principles.

But it only shows how out of touch the government is with public sentiment. The public desires to see little favoritism and a focus on credentials in appointments. They are fed up with watching those who worked for presidential campaigns become CEOs of major public corporations. Chung-Ang University professor Hong Ky-tack served on Park’s campaign as well as her transition committee. Therefore, his appointment means that a presidential favorite has merely been replaced by another. We dread what other appointments would be like.

The government’s explanation about the choice is also lacking. It goes against its pledged ideas of privatizing the state-invested bank and separation of industrial and financial capital. Hong argues that he changed his thoughts on privatization, acknowledging that the government made the preferential choice. Just because he is an economist who studied finance does not also make him qualified to head a major banking group.

KDB Financial Group is a financial entity with 200 trillion won ($175 billion) in assets. Its chief executive must be experienced in corporate management as well as capable of working well with the government. Hong lacks experience as well as capacity.

The selection of the chairman of the KDB Financial Group must change in order to stem political influence. Controversy over the appointment won’t go away under the current system where the Financial Services Commission head makes the recommendation and the president endorses it. The chief should be chosen through a separate appointment board as in other state companies.


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