Bring back the bureaucratic mafia

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Bring back the bureaucratic mafia

Not so long ago, I visited the office of Mr. A, a former politician, at a financial company. As soon as we exchanged greetings, he gave me a book he had written. It had nothing to do with finance. Then he asked, “How’s Mr. B doing?” hinting he is an acquaintance of an executive at my newspaper. He then began iterating his connections in politics and government.

When I asked him about the company and its financial issues, he avoided answering directly. Instead, he elaborated on his stint as a politician and added, “I will return to politics soon and run for office.” I left without getting any answers. As I departed, he said, “Whatever you want to hear from me, I have nothing to say.” He is an executive who is considered part of the “political mafia.”

After the Sewol ferry incident, the “parachute appointment” controversy continues. On May 19, President Park Geun-hye declared she would root out the “bureaucratic mafia,” referring to corrupt lawmakers within the government, but the positions have been replaced by a “political mafia.” Of course, politicians can work for public corporations and financial companies if they are qualified and have experience with National Assembly committees. But I have never met a politician turned executive who knows the field work. A former politician who has never worked at a financial company is appointed as a bank inspector. An inspector reviews the legitimacy of the bank operation and watches out for internal corruption. But how can someone who does not know how a bank operates catch increasingly complex and clever corruption? In a way, the political mafia is more dangerous than the bureaucratic mafia.

The political mafia makes sure to pay back the person who sent them to the position. They are eager to go back to their original field, so they are busy making connections in politics rather than in their job. They consider the position temporary, so they want to avoid anything too complicated or controversial. Now, employees at public corporations and financial companies say they’d rather work with the bureaucratic mafia, who at least know the work and have experiences in the organizational environment.

At the National Assembly inspection on government offices, state committees raised concerns about parachute appointments at public corporations. But an executive at a public company sarcastically said, “I don’t know if lawmakers have any right to give reproach, when they ask public corporations to offer positions for their aides.”

A parachute is a device that allows a person or object to safely descend when dropped from an aircraft. Someday, the term should be used in reference to appointments and promotions made in a time of crisis to ensure the soft landing of an organization. Lately, many CEO and executive positions in the financial industry have been vacant. Citizens are watching to see whether the government can overcome the political mafia controversy.

*The author is a business news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 21, Page 33


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