Political appointments face axe

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Political appointments face axe

The government plans to dismiss high-ranking officials of state-run corporations who were appointed for political reasons. A well-placed insider of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party speaking on condition of anonymity said Sunday that President Kim Dae-jung would most likely begin the dismissals in January by asking certain executives to resign.

"President Kim promised to devote himself to national affairs without partisanship," the source said, adding that putting professionally qualified people in top positions at state-run firms is a big part of that commitment.

The official said many of the positions would be filled with experts in related fields or by promoting junior executives who have substantial practical experience to head the enterprises.

A government official in charge of reforming public corporations said, "We have numerous data that show executives we feel were appointed for political reasons have been mismanaging firms."

The main opposition Grand National Party insisted that the administration has abused its power in appointing executives of public corporations, often appointing not only top executives but managers involved in day-to-day operations for political reasons.

A number of former political insiders and legislators have been appointed by Mr. Kim's administration to head or audit public corporations.

Four former legislators head state firms: You In-hak, Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation; Cho Hong-kyu, Korea National Tourism Organization; Kim Myung-kyu, Korea Gas Corporation, and Kim Jin-bae, the Agricultural and Fishery Marketing Corporation. Chae Young-suk, who is also a former lawmaker, is an executive of Korea Train Express.

Kang Dong-yeon, who heads Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corporation; Kim Yong-sool, the head of Korea Press Foundation, and Lee Sang-chul, head of Korea Telecom, are all former members of the ruling party.

Former members of the United Liberal Democrats placed in executive posts at public corporations when the minor party was a coalition partner of the Millennium Democratic Party include Kwon Hae-ok, Koo Cheon-seo and Huh Noh-choong.

Retired military officers are also in this group. Kim Jin-ho heads Korea Land Corporation; Park Chun-taek leads Korea Resources Corporation, and Lee Soo-young is chief of Korea National Oil Corporation.

Former prosecutors, Blue House officials and police and intelligence officers were appointed as auditors and executives of several state-run companies, including Korea Electric Power Corporation.

by Kim Chung-hyuk

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