Oct 10, 2016

    Samsung's Note 7 scandal escapes scrutiny in the media

    IF HYUNDAI is too big to be allowed to fall, then Samsung, South Korea's No. 1 chaebol,

    is so royally important that

    should it collapse, the country's economy would shrink by

    at least 20 per cent.

    One foreign newspaper once remarked that living in South Korea, you would likely sleep in a Samsung-built house, watch a Samsung television, surf on a Samsung smart phone and shop with a Samsung credit card.

    No wonder some locals call their country the "Samsung Republic" and the group's chairman Lee Kun Hee the "economic president".

    But even such a powerful and ostensibly well-run group recently ran into a huge embarrassing crisis, when many units of its latest model - the Galaxy Note 7 - exploded because of battery overheat.

    Samsung recalled 2.5 million units of the devices but that did not stop its share price from falling 7 per cent on Sept 12, which wiped 28 billion won

    (S$34 million) off its market cap.

    Critics pointed to the group's authoritarian management model as the cause for the screw-up,

    as such a practice permits only innovations by the top and

    forbids lower-rank staff from challenging decisions of superiors.

    Only recently Samsung's management conceded that the model was outdated and signed

    a document promising to

    amend their way.

    But all the major media in South Korea - except Kyunghyang Shinmun and Hankyore - did not utter one harsh word on the battery oversight and desisted from identifying the warts

    in the Samsung culture.

    Even President Park Geun Hye has looked away as she, like the self-gagged media, knows pulling the carpet out from under Samsung would be economic suicide for the country.