Our deplorable civil servantsWhen will we see the end of civil servants reigning over the people? Every administration has tried so hard to monitor civil servants, but the problem has not disappeared. In the latest incident, 11 officials from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy were punished for receiving hardcore hospitality at a hostess bar.
At the end of March, employees from the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs were punished for attending a similar event during a workshop on Jeju Island, sponsored by construction firms. Both incidents tainted President Lee Myung-bak’s “fair society” campaign.
The latest case was even more brazen. From the end of last year until recently, the 12 officials from the Knowledge Economy Ministry summoned officials of the Korea Radioactive Waste Management Corp. and the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials, which the ministry supervised, under the guise of receiving briefings. The ministry officials scheduled the briefings in the evenings and went out for dinners and lavish parties at bars.
Rumors say that some of them even received sex. Of course, the corporations paid the bills. They even had to forge their corporate credit card records to come up with the expenses. They colluded with certain restaurants to make it seem as if they ate there, paying the fake bills with credit cards and receiving back cash. They also fabricated business trip documents to prepare the funding to entertain ministry officials.
According to the government audit, the companies spent more than 100 million won in total on the ministry officials. Our tax money was wasted for deplorable purposes. The Knowledge Economy Ministry supervises the most number of corporations and agencies - 20 percent - among all ministries.
We want to ask Minister Choi Joong-kyung if the latest incident was the action of only a few civil servants in his ministry. After all, there is a deeply rooted tradition for public corporations to entertain ministry officials since they are so powerful. Civil servants can make the impossible possible, which is why everyone tries to please them.
But it is shocking to find out that these practices are still ongoing. According to a recent National Police Agency report, corruption among civil servants is skyrocketing. Last year, 14,885 civil servants were convicted of crimes, a 37 percent jump in two years. While all other crimes in Korea decreased, crimes by civil servants went up. The only solution is handing out unforgiving punishments to send a clear message.