[EDITORIALS]Institute a blind trust systemThe newly elected lawmakers from the Grand National Party have been requested to submit a written promise that they will leave their personal assets in a blind trust. The gist of the agreement is that they will put their assets in the trust of a financial institution and that they will not interfere in the management of those assets. As a party disgraced with the reputation of accepting a truckload of cash, the Grand Nationals made this pledge after last week’s legislative elections. We think it can be a remarkable way to lower politicians’ corruption index.
It is likely that limiting a person’s right to increase his assets because he is a public servant infringes on the basic rights guaranteed by the constitution. Nevertheless, we support the system because it is possible for civil servants to increase their assets by using information and power inherent in their duties.
The lawmakers of the 16th Assembly were found to have purchased large amounts of the stocks of businesses connected to the standing committees they belonged to. According to statistics, high-ranking officials’ rate of success in stock investment is six times higher than that of ordinary people.
People’s confidence in the Assembly, in particular, has dropped due to corruption scandals involving politicians. In advanced countries, the blind trust system is widely accepted. Under that system, officials can only receive annual reports from the financial institution managing their assets, and even communication with the manager is limited. If the proposal initiated by the Grand National Party succeeds, we can improve the transparency index of public officials, including legislators, to the level of advanced countries. The government has announced that it will implement a “conflict of interest prevention system,” which is similar to the blind trust system, for all higher-ranking public servants.
When a new system is introduced, there can be some side effects. We have to accept them as the inevitable price we must pay to root out corruption. According to the 2003 corruption survey by Transparency International, Korea ranks 50th in the world. In order to get the transparency index to match the size of our economy, it is desirable that politicians participate in a self-purification drive.