Published : 2013-02-24 19:50
Updated : 2013-02-24 19:50
Heads of government-funded or government-invested agencies, all of them appointed by the Lee Myung-bak administration, are offering to resign long before their terms in office are set to expire. They are doing so apparently in the belief that it is more honorable to quit now than to wait until they are told to leave.
Lee Chae-wook, chief executive officer of Incheon International Airport Corp., tendered his resignation last month. He was followed by Jun Kwang-soo, who offered to resign as chairman and CEO of the National Pension Service last week. Several others are also on the way out.
Their voluntary departures, timed around the Sunday expiration of President Lee Myung-bak’s term in office, should be more than welcomed by President Park Geun-hye, who has so many people to reward with appointments to prestigious, high-paying public posts for their contribution to her election.
Those close to Park say the vacancies will be filled with persons with the expertise required for their jobs. Now the question is whether or not the Park administration will follow the steps of its predecessor in demanding all others resign regardless of the time that is left until the end of their terms in office.
When the Lee administration was inaugurated five years ago, some heads of government-invested corporations, government-funded research institutes and other agencies, and government-subsidized organizations tendered their resignation on their own. Others wanted to stay for the remainder of their legally guaranteed terms in office.
But it did not take long before the conservative Lee administration started to put pressure on them to tender their resignations simply because they had been appointed by the previous progressive Roh Moo-hyun administration. At the vanguard of this campaign was Yu In-chon, then minister of culture, sports and tourism, who said, “Those whose political belief is colored by that of the previous administration will have to go on their own.”
To those defying its demand, the Lee administration threatened to expose their dirty linen in public, stop funding their organizations, or push for their takeover by other organizations. Almost all of them had no other choice but to leave. But among the last holdouts was Kim Jung-hun, who won a court order that he be reinstated as chairman of Arts Council Korea.
Though the tactic may have relieved the Lee administration of some of the burden of rewarding, it did much harm to its reputation. Park will have to guard against making the same mistake.