[Editorial] No more ‘parachuting?’

By Korea Herald

Work experience to be demanded of CEO candidates

  • Published : Feb 21, 2014 - 20:24
  • Updated : Feb 21, 2014 - 20:24
The Park administration says it will do away with the practice of “parachuting” unqualified political appointees to the top posts of corporations invested in by the government. It says that from now on, candidates for the posts of chief executive officer and comptroller will be screened out unless they have worked for five years or longer in the business areas in which their management skills are demanded.

If the promise is met with public skepticism, and even cynicism, the administration has only itself to blame. It was only last week that Korea Electrical Power Corp. selected two former lawmakers affiliated with the ruling Saenuri Party and a former senior prosecutor as candidates for outside board member posts.

The state utility apparently did so at the request of an aide to President Park Geun-hye or the ruling party. Her administration deserved criticism from the opposition.

The problem with their selection is that neither had any experience working in the field of power generation. One might even believe they were selected just because they were close to the president.

Worse still, 13 of the 38 government-invested corporations that are under the scrutiny of the Park administration because of their snowballing debt have filled their vacant CEO posts with figures with political backgrounds. In addition, 11 other corporations have filled their comptroller posts with former politicians. It does not take genius to realize that the corporations have done so to reward them for their contribution to Park’s election.

Parachuting is often cited as one of the reasons for the corporations’ bad performance and piling debt. Yet, the Park administration has continued this misguided practice while threatening to discharge CEOs from their posts if they fail to meet preset targets.

The Park administration’s promise to put an end to parachuting will sound hollow until it is written into law and the process of selecting top managers is made transparent. Public skepticism in this regard is well-founded, given that none of the previous administrations that had committed to themselves to abandoning the practice made good on their promises.