Opposition lawmakers said Tuesday they would push to pass three anticorruption bills for civil servants as part of efforts to prevent corrupt ties between government officials and the private sector.
The revision bills, currently pending at the National Assembly, are designed to prevent officials from receiving any form of payment, stop former civil servants from getting government posts if they had used their former posts for personal gain and to confiscate any profit gained from such practices.
But the national drive to eradicate collusion between former civil servants and entrepreneurs faces obstacles, as the main beneficiaries of the illegal practices are those in positions of power.
The sinking of the Sewol ferry last month exposed the corrupt links between officials and the ship’s operator. This revelation sparked a wave of criticism, urging the government to take steps to abolish the practice in which former bureaucrats land profitable jobs at state-run and private companies.
On Tuesday, a dispute erupted over the revision draft for the Public Service Ethics Act, which has a clause about allowing former civil servants to work as lawyers, certified public accountants and tax accountants without going through proper hiring processes.
The law prohibits civil servants from seeking jobs at firms related to their former posts for five years. But a 2011 revision allowed an exception for those who had obtained a license to work as a lawyer or an accountant prior to working at a government office.
With President Park Geun-hye vowing to eradicate the “gwanpia” ― former civil servants that gain favors from their junior ex-colleagues ― many had expected the exception clause to be removed.
New Politics Alliance for Democracy Rep. Jin Sun-mee proposed a new revision last year to remove the exception, but it faced an opposition from the Supreme Court, the Justice Ministry and the National Tax Service.
“All former employees of government offices should go through proper hiring processes, but our attempt to revise the law was delayed by opposition from the court and the ministry,” said an official from Jin’s office. “We will take this opportunity to remove the blind spot (of the Public Service Ethics Act).”
The exception clause had stirred up a controversy as former high-ranking officials such as Prime Minister Chung Hong-won had earned more than 669 million won ($658,000) while working as a lawyer for a local law firm.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)