Cause for despair

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Cause for despair

Corruption among civil servants rings alarm bells in our society. As government officials - particularly those in powerful organizations - are increasingly under investigation for their irregularities, we wonder if the proper work ethic really exists in the public domain.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office is looking into a case in which a prosecutor allegedly pressured a physician to reimburse all the costs of a surgery to a female celebrity at her request. According to the prosecution, the prosecutor is suspected of meeting a cosmetic surgeon to demand a refund and additional surgery for an entertainer that he himself indicted on charges of habitually using Propofol, an intravenously administered hypnotic agent. An ex-cop is also being investigated on the suspicion of receiving bribes in return for helping a gangster to escape police investigation.

We wonder if the prosecutor and policeman were really aware of their obligations. As prosecutors must investigate crimes, any type of private contact with people accused of crimes is strictly banned. Yet the prosecutor in question attempted to fix the celebrity up and even used his own bank account to receive the refund from the doctor. It is equally shocking that a policeman would help a gangster escape rather than bringing him to justice. We are dumbfounded by the way they abandoned their duties as civil servants.

In another alarming case, a high-ranking official at the National Tax Service filed a law suit after he was fired for accepting 11 million won ($10,353) in condolence money during a family funeral from executives of an insolvent savings bank. The case further testifies to the deplorable sense of ethics among civil servants. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s guilty verdict for a government official who took a total of 5.3 million won from a company he had to oversee. The highest court interpreted the act of receiving 50,000 won as an example of graft, as it should have.

And yet government workers are backpedaling. When such aberrant situations persist, the people’s trust plummets and the government will only have trouble implementing policies.

The Park Geun-hye administration promised a “normalization of the abnormal” with its goal of establishing a transparent government. But empty slogans only deepen the people’s frustrations. It is time to devise pan-governmental measures to put an end to civil servants’ moral laxity. The first step is legislation of a bill banning all types of illegal solicitations and power abuse. Though such a bill was submitted to the National Assembly last August, it is still pending without any deliberations. The government must ask the legislature to pass it in its February session. Education and oversight of employees at powerful agencies must follow.
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