Expectations for new ministerThe government took a first step toward national reform after the April Sewol ferry disaster. In a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Park Geun-hye administration approved a government reorganization bill focused on the launches of the Ministry of Public Safety and Security and the Ministry of Personnel Management. In a major shift, the government decided to establish the Ministry of Public Safety and Security under the Office of the Prime Minister and incorporate the existing Coast Guard and the National Emergency Management Agency into the new Coast Guard and Safety Headquarters and the Central Emergency Management Headquarters, respectively, in order to not repeat the unconscienably poor response to the tremendous tragedy. The government also set up the Ministry of Personnel Management after separating civil servants management from the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.
What attracts our attention is the nomination of a private sector individual as the minister of personnel management. Lee Geun-myeon, former CEO of a subsidiary of Samsung Group, has been working for Samsung Electronics, Samsung Corning and Samsung SDS over the last three decades specializing in the field of personnel management. His name appears in Marquis Who’s Who in testimony to his achievements in the manpower management area.
We welcome the government’s decision to pick Lee as the orchestrator of the management of our civil servants. People are calling for an overhaul of the public sector because they can’t trust the government’s attempts at reform. The Sewol calamity made it clear that the nation cannot tackle the challenge unless the sclerotic culture of seniority-based automatic pay hikes and civil servants’ domineering attitudes towards the people don’t change. Despite our bureaucrats’ great contribution to the development of our country - once working as an engine of industrial planning - officialdom is now a synonym for collusion with the private sector. The culture of corruption is deeply-rooted enough that we must employ a contingency measure to correct malpractices in the public sector.
We have high expectations of Lee, who has to spearhead the revamping of our corrupt officialdom. Based on the experience he has accumulated as CEO in the private sector, he must exert all efforts to change the public sector by breaking up the old-boy network and introducing an ambitious system for fair competition. We also expect him to demonstrate leadership in persuading government employees to agree to a long overdue government pension reform bill
Lee must hit the ground running to end the vicious cycle of the government’s appointments fiasco. The establishment of his office will definitely change the government’s system for appointing high-level officials. Lee reportedly worked for President Park Geun-hye’s 2012 campaign. We hope he earnestly screens the qualification of candidates for high government posts and gets this government beyond its seemingly never ending appointments scandals.
JooongAng Ilbo, Nov. 19, Page 34