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Gov`t doing what to combat corruption?

Posted June. 03, 2011 04:03,   


President Lee Myung-bak has stressed eradication of corruption at all levels since his inauguration. “Combating corruption among civil servants” is No. 12 on the list of top 100 tasks of his administration. By including the creation of a fair society as an agenda item for the second half of his term, he put both fair management of law and regulations and eradication of corruption as the top priorities among five major tasks to support his agenda. The people now realize that what he said was in vain, however. Instead, his administration has worsened the tainted image of the country as a corrupt republic instead of creating a fair society.

People have woken up every morning to hear of yet another dirty official being investigated. Prosecutors found that Government Legislation Minister Jeong Sun-tae received money from a broker of Busan Savings Bank Group. Eun Jin-soo, a former senior official at the Board of Audit and Inspection, had been arrested earlier on the charge of taking bribes from the same broker. Kim Jong-chang, former head of the Financial Supervisory Service, is said to have been implicated in making the audit of savings banks lax and will testify since Eun is known to have asked him for a favor. Kim Jang-ho, a deputy governor of the financial watchdog, announced his intent to resign after he was put on the investigation list. The state watchdog agency is officially a private organization but given its functions as granted by the government, it is a public organization. Kim Gwang-su, head of the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit, was summoned for questioning on the allegation that he accepted a bribe while serving as director of the financial service division at the Financial Supervisory Service. A slew of suspects seem to have been involved in a single corruption case of the savings bank. The comments made by certain politicians who sided with the bank are noteworthy.

President Lee disappointed the people when he formed his first Cabinet with candidates of questionable character. His administration repeatedly pledged to root out corruption but has never eradicated it. When the holidays came, the presidential office, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Board of Audit and Inspection made a fuss about disciplining government officials but were themselves corrupt. A senior official of the Presidential Security Service took bribes from a security equipment provider, a general got kickbacks from a defense equipment supplier, and the National Police Agency commissioner accepted money from a restaurant operator on a construction site. Special Affairs Minister Lee Jae-oh said, “Government officials should not spend more than 5,000 won (4.63 U.S. dollars) on lunch,” when he led the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission, but numerous officials must have laughed at him. Incumbent commission head Kim Young-ran said, “Officials who receive an orchard worth 30,000 won (27.79 dollars) or more will be punished,” but what she says is naïve and ignorant of reality.

All government officials are supposed to be transparent. Above all, staff of supervisory organizations should be even more resistant to corruption. Yet many regulatory bodies are tainted with corruption. If the gatekeepers are no longer clean, there is no hope for Korean officials.

The Lee administration has a chance, however. It should conduct a thorough investigation and eradicate the root of corruption without leaving a trace of suspicion in the bank scandal. Regardless of rank, any official implicated in the case should face punishment if guilty to help Korea rid itself of the image of a “corrupt republic."