Samsung shouldn’t be the scapegoat
“There are holes in the nation,” Dr. Chung Doo-ryeon, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Samsung Medical Center, told a National Assembly special committee meeting June 11, and his words left Samsung Medical Center bombarded by criticism.
Samsung Medical Center failed to manage the isolation list, excluding an irregularly employed medical aide who transported MERS patients. The hospital did not distribute proper protective clothing to staff until June 17.
This does not mean the government is any less accountable. Even if Samsung Medial Center had holes, the government must take the final responsibility. Moreover, the government left the nation in chaos by withholding the release of MERS information. Due to the government’s faulty initial response, Patient No. 14, a super-spreader, infected more than 80 people. There is also evidence of more holes in the government.
Also, holes could be found among the people. Patient No. 14 spread the virus, visiting multiple hospitals for three days. Another patient did not wait for the test result, broke the room lock and took a taxi home, threatening, “If I have MERS, I will spread it everywhere.”
MERS has infected the hospitals, the government and the people. In that sense, it is justifiable to say there are holes in the nation, although the Samsung doctor probably didn’t mean it that way.
Yet the government trying to transfer responsibility to Samsung Medical Center is worrisome. People increasingly think it is not just the hospital, but Samsung as a company that is at fault. On June 17, Samsung Group executives released an official statement, and Samsung Electronics’ Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee apologized the next day.
Still, people demand a more proper apology. Lee’s apology seems to be a survival tactic to end the cycle of blame. I do not mean to discuss whether this conscious strategy is justifiable. Right or not, Samsung has a problem to resolve on its own.
But more importantly, the government should not hide behind Samsung. A photo of Samsung Medical Center Director Song Jae-hoon bowing to President Park Geun-hye betrays such an intent. The government may be trying to hide its faults, using the public criticism of Samsung as a shield, when it should strictly and sincerely repent for its mistakes.
But there is no reason to feel sorry for Samsung or Samsung Medical Center. It is doubtful that Samsung Medical Center’s status as a top hospital will change. Instead, it may attract more patients. Many people will believe the MERS problem was exaggerated because it involved Samsung and that mistakes will be corrected because it is Samsung. If Jay Y. Lee is sincere about “overall innovation of the hospital as soon as the crisis is settled,” the government should also deal with its problems. The government must not hide behind Samsung.
*The author is a business news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, June 24, Page 30
by KIM JUN-HYUN