Mayor Park’s weak defense

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Mayor Park’s weak defense

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon lambasted the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) for its “outdated” findings lacking “understanding” of labor realities after the government watchdog concluded that Seoul Metro is accountable for illicit hiring in the city government’s organization responsible for subway operation in the capital region. Mayor Park continued to criticize the state agency even after he was warned not to challenge the authority. Appearing on a TBS radio program, which is funded by the city, Park said the BAI found fault in a hiring practice that should actually be praised and awarded.

According to its year-long BAI finding, out of 1,285 employees on long-term contracts who were converted to permanent status in March last year, 192, or 15 percent, were related to staff members of Seoul Metro. The number was greater than the 112 who had been accused before the inspection. Moreover, as many as 129 joined the subway operator after the city government decided to covert part-time contract workers to permanent status. There were cases in which someone working for Seoul Metro asked for their relative to be hired by the company through an agency upon learning about the upcoming status conversion plan.

The BAI asked for prosecutorial investigations into nine staff, including Seoul Metro’s administration head who removed his wife’s name from the list of employees family relations before he submitted related data to the National Assembly. It also asked for the dismissal of the subway operator president Kim Tae-ho. During the radio interview, the mayor claimed that the BAI findings only confirmed that there were no wrongdoings made by his administration and the subway operator.

Even if the promotion of contract workers to permanent status was the right thing to do, the city administration has played a part in helping Seoul Metro hire relatives of its employees in a suspicious way by notifying the subway operator of its conversion plan without the proper opinion-finding procedures. Although the deed was done with good intentions, the mayor should apologize for stripping job opportunities from others because of an unfair process. The entire population is sick and tired of hearing self-righteous comments from the ruling Democratic Party in defense of Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his family despite a number of allegations against him and his family. We do not want to hear that illicit hiring practices are something that should be applauded.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 2, Page 30
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