President briefed on plans to ensure fair taxation, military service, education, workers’ rights
President Lee Myung-bak revved up his drive for a “fair society” by launching a monthly high-profile meeting Thursday to draw specific policy measures.
Lee stressed that political parties must join efforts to create a fair society regardless of who is in power.
“(Korea) must make suprapartisan efforts through changes of governments to realize a fair society,” Lee said as he presided over the meeting with ministers, professors and civic group leaders at Cheong Wa Dae.
“It is important to make the social atmosphere fairer for the underprivileged.”
Lee has said since August last year that achieving a fair society was one of his major policy goals for the latter half of his five-year tenure.
President Lee Myung-bak speaks during a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday to discuss measures toward achieving a “fair society.” (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
The drive for fairness was marred, however, by a scandal involving the employment of an incumbent minister’s daughter and a series of disputed nominations of senior officials whose ethics were questioned at parliamentary confirmation hearings. Opposition parties criticized Lee for what they called “revolving-door appointments.”
At the meeting Thursday, Lee was briefed on the government’s key tasks and action plans to improve rules or practices widely seen as unfair.
The main policy direction is to seek a corruption-free society where equal opportunity is guaranteed and no special treatment is given, a sound market economy that supports the socially vulnerable, according to a press release by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The key tasks include achieving fairness in compulsory military service, taxation, educational support for the low-income bracket, protection of workers’ rights, fair personnel management in the public sector, reducing discrimination based on educational background, reducing special treatment for former public office holders and mutual growth of large and small businesses.
Children of influential figures and celebrities will be put under closer watch for possible preferential treatment related to military service, and taxation of high-income earners will be strictly scrutinized under a new rule.
The government will also step up crackdown on insurance-related crimes and expand recruitment of public officials from provincial areas, the office said.
Citing a newspaper survey that said 71 percent of South Koreans believed their society was unfair, Lee attributed the perceived lack of fairness to the country’s rapid economic growth.
“As the gap widens between the rich and poor with the recent global economic crisis and globalization, ‘fair society’ is high on the agenda in advanced countries as well as developing nations,” Lee said.
“Korea could set an example for the international community if we successfully realize a fair society.”
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)