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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 2)

All News 08:59 April 02, 2022

Dispute over DSME CEO
Close coordination needed for smooth power transfer

Conflicts between the incoming and outgoing administrations are escalating again. This time the dispute is centered on the naming of a new CEO for Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's transition team launched salvos at the appointment of Park Doo-seon, vice president of DSME, as the company's president and CEO during a general meeting Monday.

Describing the appointment as abuse of power typical of the Moon Jae-in administration, the transition team threatened it would "ask the Board of Audit and Inspection to look into the appointment of Park Doo-seon, who is known to be a former classmate of the younger brother of President Moon." Won ll-hee, deputy spokesman for the transition committee, said during a press briefing Thursday that the appointment does not respect the principles of common sense and customs.

Won raised suspicion that a certain individual was behind the appointment, although DSME went through the process of getting approval from the directors' board at least superficially. In reaction, Cheong Wa Dae said, "It is surprising that the transition committee has had 'covetous eyes' on the DSME position." Cheong Wa Dae deputy spokesperson Shin Hye-hyun said in a statement that the DSME position should not be coveted by either the incumbent or the incoming administrations.

The transition team's assertion lacks persuasiveness in that the company has already finished the process for the nomination of the new CEO before the presidential election on March 9. It convened a meeting of the board members on March 8 to set the agenda for the general assembly on March 28. In addition, Park is largely regarded as fit for the CEO post in consideration of his 36-year experience in the company with diverse stints in duties such as procurement and production. Most importantly, he has been in charge of the shipyard since 2019.

Given this, it seems the transition team has gone too far in denouncing Park's appointment as DSME CEO on the basis of Park's ties to President Moon's younger brother. What is regrettable though is that there should have been closer coordination in the appointment process, as the new CEO will have to work closely with the incoming administration.

As Cheong Wa Dae put it, the new CEO needs the debt-ridden shipbuilder to stay afloat and take advantage of the booming global shipbuilding market. To this end, the virtually public corporation, with the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) holding more than half of its shares, should maintain close and cooperative ties with the incoming government.

DSME already got 40.1 billion won ($33 billion) of taxpayers' money and may need additional assistance depending on the situation, heightening the need for close cooperation with the next government. Both the incoming and outgoing administrations should respect each other and have close consultations in appointing people to major posts in public enterprises and institutions to allay public concerns over the smooth power transition.

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