The dawdling must stopThe Blue House has not gotten around to appointments of top public sector executives, partly because it was preoccupied with filling vacancies in the government. About one fourth of the senior positions in the public sector and quasi-public institutions remain empty. In the meantime, the public sector is sinking under colossal debt worth 500 trillion won ($470 billion) and poor management. Executive seats must be filled with capable people and quickly.
Due to a series of poor appointments, President Park Geun-hye has turned over-cautious and a bit self-conscious about her recruitments. But making appointments is one of the key jobs of the president. They must be made suitably, seriously and in a timely manner. Park is neglecting her duty by leaving chief executive positions at public institutions empty for more than a few months.
The president has repeatedly vowed that she will place people with expertise in top positions in the public sector and people who share her values when it comes to governance. The Blue House has been getting recommendations of candidates from various channels. There is no reason for further delays.
Park should apply her guidelines based on an objective and fair review of candidates by the independent committee on public-sector executive screening. Such appointment procedures have been ignored by past governments. Top public-sector positions have been reserved for bureaucrats and people who had connections with political bigwigs or the president.
After such revolving-door practices raised controversy, various people who worked on the presidential campaign landed in certain positions. In one case, a candidate who received the lowest score by the recommendation committee was named by the president as the head of a public company.
The Blue House has reportedly sent back a few of the names recommended by the public-sector executive review committee. That is why the president is suspected of having other names in mind. One poll showed that the public believes the Park administration has performed most poorly on appointments. The administration must accelerate the process in order to save itself from further controversy.
The Blue House should apply the pronounced guidelines. It should choose among the names recommended by the independent review committee. A fair choice will have more legitimacy to push ahead with reforms and management decisions without giving into the government or labor unions. That is the only way to normalize the workings of the giant public sector.