Cut off the collusionThe bill to prevent retired government officials from landing corporate jobs after leaving public office has hit a snag. The law on so-called gwanfia — a blend of the Korean words for government officials and mafia — was vetoed in a subcommittee meeting on concerns of violating freedom of choice. It was handed to a legal subcommittee for review.
The state-proposed law would extend the period of prohibiting government officials from seeking private-sector jobs for three years from the current two. The officials subject to the ban were specified as second-grade class or higher. Officials with legal, accounting or other certified professional licenses were also included in the ban to sever corporate ties with the bench.
Yet the legislature is making various excuses to hinder the legal revisions. The bill was designed to rein in ills from the tradition of revolving-door practices following the sinking of the Sewol ferry, which underscored the long-standing collusion of maritime government officials and the shipping industry.
At the heart of most corruption cases in the public sector was the tradition where retired officials turned a blind eye to unfair or illegal business practices and were offered deals because they were assured a high-paying corporate job after retirement.
The government promised to put an end to the corrupt legacy as part of a campaign to rebuild the country following the Sewol crisis.
After President Park Geun-hye declared she would personally eradicate gwanfia connections, the government immediately drew up the revised bill. But it gathered dust as the legislature wrangled over political issues. And now, it’s being cast aside.
The legislature has also been dragging its feet on another anticorruption law dubbed the Kim Young-ran bill, which would enable authorities to punish government officials for taking any form of illegal funds, even without any conditions attached.
It is strange that all bills aiming to reform the bureaucratic society somehow get lost in the legislature.
If the legislature continues dragging its feet on public-sector reform, the people will start to suspect that the political sector has an ulterior motive.
The legislature must stand at the forefront of public-sector reform. It must demonstrate the will to end business collusion and corruption in the public sector by approving these bills. They are essential to ensure safety supervision and fair practices to make the country reliable and safe. The legislature may face backlash if it continues to look the other way on public-sector reform.