[EDITORIALS]Every hand is out

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[EDITORIALS]Every hand is out

We were startled at the report that a junior government official told prosecutors that he received so many bribes that he could not even remember how much they amounted to. People up there embezzled tens of billions of won while others down there also did their part in misappropriations. What kind of a country is this?
According to the report, this government official, now in the custody of the Ulsan District Prosecutors Office, has been taking 100,000 won ($85) to 1 million won every day since September 1998. He allegedly kept the money in bank accounts under the names of his relatives. On top of this, he kept his monthly salary untouched in another account and lived on the bribery proceeds, even depositing some in his children’s accounts.
Corruption of government officials is not news anymore. The core of the problem is, however, that such corruption is taking place in more intrepid and open ways. Inside the car of a local government official of Gyeonggi province, who was recently caught in an outdoor parking while accepting a jewel box, were found cash and checks worth almost 11 million won. Well, the world is full of absurdities like “petty cash” of 70 billion won found inside an empty house and the court staging an on-the-spot investigation to see whether a car can accommodate more than 5 billion won of cash. Other government officials simply seem to be trying to keep up with the Joneses.
It is not an everyday occurrence that the Ulsan city official could have carried on his crimes for so long. What has his supervisor been doing for the last three years, or the auditors and inspectors? It’s never too late to hold them accountable.
The government, meanwhile, established ethics regulations for public officials and also founded an anti-corruption body within the government. But we don’t see any sign of the crimes of government officials decreasing.
How can anybody dare to make an excuse that such cases are limited only to the Ulsan city government? A thorough investigation is needed: Is the self-regulatory system working? If not, how can it be improved?
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