[EDITORIALS]Panel must fulfill its duty

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[EDITORIALS]Panel must fulfill its duty

The Presidential Independent Commission Against Corruption has filed a complaint against three former or incumbent senior government officials. The complaint is the first filed against senior bureaucrats since the commission was launched two months ago. The commission says they have received some 800 reports of corruption, increasing the public's interest in how many more government officials will be implicated in corrupt activities.

The allegations contained in the complaint are shocking. Most jarring is the status of the officials. One of the accused is a minister-level official at a government agency, and two are former or incumbent senior government officials working with audit and inspection authorities. They could be facing charges that they had received from 1996 through 2001 bribes from subordinates for promotion; or that they had been entertained twice or three times a week, receiving gifts and as much as several tens of millions of won.

One of the stated goals of the commission is to purge those agencies that are often insulated from the usual checks and balances of other government agencies of corruption. Thus, the significance of the complaint filed against the three government officials is hard to ignore. However, we are bothered by the fact that the commission chairman has held a press conference to announce the cases even though we are still dealing with only allegations. The complaint has been filed on the basis of accusations and interviews. If claims cannot be proved, the accused will be severely damaged. The commission says it is not in error since it has revealed no names, but this is an irresponsible statement.

The commission should have waited for the prosecution's investigative results before making the case public. The rules governing the commission state that the prosecution must notify the commission of the investigation outcome. The commission also has the power to ask the court to appoint a lawyer to look into the case should it judge that the prosecutors did not fulfill their duty toward their fellow civil servants. The prestige and honor of an institution, a government institution, derives not from enthusiasm and ambition but from a commitment to uphold basic civil rights.
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