[EDITORIALS]A civic duty

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[EDITORIALS]A civic duty

"Living a faithful and honest life is the only competitive power we have to survive the era of globalization," Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan said at a lecture for officials of the Board of Audit and Inspection a few days ago. Because his advice was so plain and obvious, we would have paid no special attention to it in ordinary times.

But his words touched us deeply because of his careful examination of our reality, even after his retirement, is so in tune with public sentiment.

Mr. Kim deplored Korea's scandals and said he was worried about the dominance of materialism in our society.

The corruption in our society has reached a serious level; it has nearly become a fundamental defect of our social structure. Every day, we see the names of high ranking public servants and government auditors being added to the list of the corrupt.

Because such practices prevail in our government, 90 percent of our youngsters see Korea as a corrupt country, according to a recent survey. Korea ranked nearly at the top of the list of corrupt countries, and even the foreign media have reported about conditions here.

In its latest issue, Time, a weekly current affairs magazine of the United States, reported that gangsters suspected to be involved in the financial scandal surrounding Lee Yong-ho were suspected of maintaining contacts with influential politicians. The magazine reported that in Korea it is difficult to disrupt cozy relationships with influential figures.

How much longer will we have to tolerate corruption in our society? The government agencies that monitor corruption should be beefed up and operated systematically, and companies should adopt audit systems as transparent as the standards of the international community require.

Secret inspections by some civic groups of regional governments are also a meaningful move. Breaking the vicious ties between economic development and corruption should be the government's priority - and the people's mission.

We cannot expect to develop our country to be a world leader when we disregard the many problems associated with corruption in our society.
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