Uncivilized civil servants
The Citizens’ Forum on Civil Servants Pension Reform scheduled in Busan on Nov. 4 and Chuncheon a day later was cancelled due to the systematic interference of civil servants. The forum was meant to be a “place of communication” on pension reform. Civil groups, scholars and journalists were also invited to participate.
I was invited to sit on a panel at the forum in Busan and witnessed civil servants resisting reform, staging group action and manipulating the law. More than 300 civil servants in Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang occupied the event site before the forum, which was scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
Minister of Security and Public Administration Chong Jong-sup and the panel members arrived 30 minutes after the meeting was meant to start. Union members shouted out slogans like “Reinforce the public pension!” and “Denounce Park Geun-hye!” at them.
A union executive who organized the protest said that the goal of the day was to obstruct the forum and pressured the panel to exit. He urged, “Let’s say the swear word we’ve been practicing.” More than 300 civil servants cursed all at once at Minister Chong and the panel. He threatened, “We’ve been politely demanding you leave for an hour and half, why are you refusing?” He asked the group to repeat the curse again, which they did.
Silla University professor Ahn Hong-sun, who was on the panel, rebuked the civil servants for their lack of dignity. But the civil servants remained crude and audacious.
When Minister Chong finally got a chance to speak, he said, “The Citizens’ Forum has been prepared to allow civil servants and citizens to say what they want to” and “the pension reform is for the civil servants and the future generation.” However, his remarks went unnoticed, and he left at around 3:45 p.m. Some 50 policemen from the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency were at the scene but did not restrain the members for their reckless actions.
On Nov. 5, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration announced that it is considering reporting the union members to the police for sabotaging the event. Director of the Citizens’ Solidarity for Administration Reform, Suh Young-bok, who was at the scene, said the union needs to keep at least a small amount of dignity, propose alternatives to the reform and make efforts to win the consent of citizens.
This year, 2.49 trillion won ($2.30 billion) in tax money has supplemented the defunct civil servants’ pension, but public servants seem to think nothing of citizens. If civil servants abandon the duty of public service, they are no longer civil servants.
*The author is a national news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 6, Page 33
by CHANG SE-JEONG