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[Editorial] Deviation of "Secretary of the Secretaries"

Posted July. 31, 2003 21:50,   


All Cheong Wa Dae officials assist the president. Among them, the president`s personal secretary, whose office is right next to the president`s office, can be called "Secretary of the Secretaries," or "shadow of the president." Therefore, the fact that Yang Kil-seung, the president`s personal secretary, received lavish treatment from a bar owner who was being investigated by the police came as a shock.

Whether the treatment was to buy the presidential aide`s influence has yet to be confirmed. However, some doubts remain, for the function was held one year after the ruling party`s presidential candidacy race, with a close aide to the president being invited. Even if the bar owner who wined and dined Mr. Yang had not ask for any favors outright, he might have intended to curry favor with the aide.

Just two months into of the execution of the ethics code that bars public officials from receiving meals or other services worth more than 30,000 won, the case in question took place. In addition, Choeng Wa Dae officials, which had already given a verbal warning to Mr. Yang, did not brief the president on this matter. In such officialdom, how can a presidential decree be honored?

The ethics code was enacted by an executive order, thus making it legal binding. It was designed to uproot the practice of offering and receiving lavish presents and gifts. Cheong Wa Dae should now conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and throw the book at those responsible. If not, the ethics code will be worth nothing soon.

Officials at Cheong Wa Dae should bear in mind that this case may be only the start of a longer series of such cases. Other public officials who have less experience in this kind of work may be particularly vulnerable to such lavish offers. Cheong Wa Dae now needs a "big operation" to sweep out such potentially vulnerable officials.