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Forum seeks ways to end corruption

Scholars and experts suggested a variety of ideas to stamp out corruption in public and private sectors in a recent forum in Seoul, stressing that deep-seated illicit practices have eroded national competitiveness.

Hosted by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, the forum dealt particularly with measures to enhance the integrity of high-ranking public office holders and stop private-sector firms from amassing illicit funds.

Kim Taek, professor of police administration at Jungwon University, said that the country should implement a “zero tolerance” policy in dealing with government officials who are caught accepting kickbacks in exchange for business favors.

“We should increase the percentage of the high-ranking officials who are given a jail term when they are convicted of corruption rather than giving them just a suspended sentence,” he said.

“We should also make it mandatory for presidential and parliamentary candidates to undergo a strict procedure to evaluate integrity and make anti-corruption pledges. One way for civic groups to do something to oppose corruption and help improve their integrity may be to announce the list of top 10 upright lawmakers or provincial chiefs.”

The forum aimed at exploring measures to remove corruption and establish a fair society came amid growing public displeasure over a recent series of corruption cases involving high-ranking former and current government officials.

To block private firms from creating slush funds to bankroll their illegal lobbying, Kim Geo-sung, chairman of Transparency International Korea, suggested legislating a more stringent anti-corruption law.

“We should establish a law that would impose massive fines on corrupt companies so that we can eliminate acts of raising slush funds,” he said.

“Companies tend to believe that they fulfill their social responsibilities by engaging in voluntary activities. That is wrong. Their social responsibility also includes ensuring that their business activities are performed in a just, legitimate and ethical way.”

During the session, ACRC chief Kim Young-ran stressed that top-level public servants should be at the vanguard of anti-corruption efforts.

By Song Sang-ho (