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The assets of 103 high officials in the new administration have been made public, a regulation that has been in place since 1993 as a basic tool for evaluating civil servants’ qualifications.
The system has prevented them from accumulating wealth and misusing their influence, highlighting that being rich isn’t a problem.
Therefore, it is not very meaningful to focus on the fact that civil servants in the Blue House in the Lee Myung-bak administration possess on average 3.5 billion won ($3.5 million), while those in the Roh Moo-hyun administration had an average of 1.3 billion won.
The question is whether they broke or circumvented laws when they accumulated their wealth.
The ethics of the civil servants at the Blue House seem disappointing. It seems that four out of eight officials at the level of presidential senior secretaries have broken or circumvented laws.
Park Mee-sok, senior secretary for social policy, and Lee Dong-kwan, the presidential spokesman, broke the law on owning farm land, which states that only people who cultivate farm land can own it.
Kwak Seung-jun, senior secretary for state affairs planning, and Kim Byung-kook, senior secretary for foreign affairs and national security, temporarily changed their addresses to the land that they own, even though they didn’t live there. This is against the law for resident registration.
The fact that half the presidential senior secretaries have broken the law, whether seriously or not, has blunted the president’s leadership.
The Blue House should have spotted these problems earlier.
As for registering false addresses, Kwak and Kim in fact fixed their irregularities. Besides, they registered their false addresses in the 1980s when they were still students.
The explanation that it was more their fathers’ ideas than their own has been taken into consideration.
However, Park and Lee haven’t tried to rectify their predicaments. They have a flimsy excuse: They said they didn’t know it was illegal for them to own farm land.
Four days before announcing her assets, Park submitted a letter that said local farmers co-owned her land and did the farming. This raises a suspicion that she fabricated the document.
The Blue House must probe how serious these cases are and take necessary measures.
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