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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 11)

2018/04/11 07:08

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Row over FSS chief

: Moon's faulty appointment undermines public trust

Cheong Wa Dae has come under fire for a controversy surrounding the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS)'s new head Kim Ki-sik, aggravating public concern about the capacity of the presidential office to fill senior posts with appointees equipped with professional expertise and integrity.

The former lawmaker and longtime civic activist has faced allegations he went on extravagant trips funded by public agencies, including the Korea Exchange, the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), and Woori Bank while serving in the National Assembly's National Policy Committee in 2014 and 2015.

Public sentiment turned particularly negative when it was revealed he was accompanied by a female intern on trips to the U.S. and Europe. It was also found the intern had been promoted to a grade 7 assistant at the National Assembly at an unusually swift pace.

Kim, who took office on April 2, apologized but explained the overseas trips were customary when he was serving in the National Assembly, which was before the Anti-Graft Law, or the so-called Kim Young-ran act, came into effect in September 2016.

It is true lawmakers have routinely taken costly overseas trips under the pretense of performing official duties. But this excuse is not good enough in the eyes of the public that expects a higher level of integrity from the Moon Jae-in administration, which was launched with a pledge to root out corruption, longstanding evils and outdated practices in Korean society.

Many are upset by the controversy surrounding the new FSS chief when considering he took an active role in the passage of the law at the National Assembly.

Cheong Wa Dae's response is not enough to assuage the mounting criticism of Kim.

Opposition parties are calling for his ouster, but Cheong Wa Dae refuted claims of any wrongdoings raised by the media and defended Kim against the growing calls for his dismissal. Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said that the controversies around Kim do not "meet the standards and perspective of the people," during a briefing Monday, saying "they are not serious enough for dismissal." With this kind of lame excuse, the Moon administration deserves criticism for its ethical double standards.

These controversies have already significantly undermined Kim's authority to oversee financial institutions and companies.

Cheong Wa Dae should have been extra careful to select the right person to lead the FSS, especially since Kim's predecessor Choe Heung-sik had to quit hastily over allegations of hiring irregularities.

There is obviously something wrong with Cheong Wa Dae's appointment system. Continued failures in filling senior posts will hurt the people's trust in the Moon administration.

(END)

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