The Korea Herald


Blue House raps Samsung chief's comments over profit-sharing system

By 신용배

Published : March 11, 2011 - 13:44

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Senior presidential officials expressed regret Friday over Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee's thinly veiled criticism against a proposal to introduce a profit-sharing system between conglomerates and their subcontractors here as part of efforts to balance their growth.

   It is unusual for top Cheong Wa Dae officials to take direct aim at a powerful head of South Korea's family-owned conglomerates known as chaebol. Lee, who has guided Samsung Electronics to become a major global company, is arguably an icon of South Korea's business world.

   Lee stepped into simmering disputes over a recent suggestion by Chung Un-chan, former prime minister who now leads the Commission for the Shared Growth for Large and Small Companies, that large businesses share some of their large profits with their subcontractors.

   Chung's proposal drew harsh criticism from some conservative lawmakers who brand it as a sort of socialist or communist policy.

Chung later tried to ease the controversy by toning down his position that the system, if adopted, will be implemented on a voluntary basis.

   The Samsung Group leader, who is known to be reticent in public, on Thursday alluded to his strong opposition to Chung's idea.

   "I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and I studied economics at school, but I have never heard of the word 'profit-sharing' and I simply don't understand what it is or what it means," Lee told reporters before attending a monthly meeting of the executive board of the Federation of Korean Industries, the largest business lobby in South Korea.

   Cheong Wa Dae revealed no immediate formal position on the tycoon's remarks carried in major newspapers but senior officials were not as guarded.

   "The mood is not good inside Cheong Wa Dae over Chairman Lee's remarks," a senior Cheong Wa Dae official told Yonhap News Agency by phone, requesting anonymity. "Are they uncomfortable to hear?"

   Another ranking Cheong Wa Dae official also said it was ununderstandable for the Samsung chairman to make such remarks in public at a time when President Lee Myung-bak, who was a business CEO himself, was endeavoring to create a business-friendly climate.

   The president is making simultaneous efforts to lay the groundwork for the joint growth of conglomerates and smaller businesses.

   Many conglomerates here have long been accused of unfair treatment of subcontractors, prospering through huge exports and growing domestic market shares, while small- and medium-sized companies suffered financial troubles. 

   The president vowed to address the problem in strict accordance with market principles.

   Presidential aides said the Samsung head's remarks were deemed as blunt opposition to the government's initiative.

Cheong Wa Dae (The Korea Herald) Cheong Wa Dae (The Korea Herald)

靑고위관계자 "이건희 발언, 듣기 거북해"


청와대는 11일 이건희 삼성전자 회장이 전날 현 정부의 경제정책에 대해 비판적으로 비칠 수도 있는 발언을 한데 대해 불쾌하다는 반응을 보였다.

    청와대 고위 관계자는 이날 연합뉴스와의 전화통화에서 "이 회장의 언급에 대해 청와대내 분위기가 좋지 않다. 듣기 거북하지 않느냐"고 말했다.

    다른 청와대 핵심 관계자도 "이 대통령은 누구보다 경제계를 잘 이해하기  때문 에 그동안 일각의 비판을 감수하면서도 기업하기 좋은 여건을 만들고 경제를 회복시 키려고 혼신의 힘을 다하고 있다"며 "이 회장이 사정을 누구보다 더 잘알텐데 그런 발언을 해 좀 의아스럽고 불편하다"고 밝혔다.

    청와대에서는 이 회장의 발언에 대해 경제수석실을 중심으로 대부분의 수석실에 서 문제가 있다는 인식이 형성돼 있는 것으로 전해졌다.

    이 회장은 전날 전국경제인연합회 회장단이 열리는 한남동 하얏트호텔에서 현 경제정책에 대해 점수를 매겨달라는 기자들의 질문을 받고 "참 어려운 질문이다. 과 거 10년에 비해 상당히 성장을 해왔으니 낙제점을 주면 안되겠죠"라며 미묘한  여운 을 남겼다.

    그는 또 정운찬 동방성장위원장의 '이익공유제' 구상에 대해서는 "기업가  집안 에서 자랐고 학교에서도 경제학을 공부했는데 그런 말은 들어보지 못했다"고 비판했 다.

    청와대는 이익공유제와 관련, "정 위원장 개인의 의견이고, 이에 대한 이  회장 의 언급 역시 개인 의견"이라며 "청와대가 이익공유제에 대해서는 이야기할 필요가 없다"고 말했다. (연합뉴스)