COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS, EFFORTS AND STRATEGIES IN ASIAN COUNTRIES: WITH FOCUS ON HONG KONG, SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA, AND KOREA
Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS, EFFORTS AND STRATEGIES IN ASIAN COUNTRIES: WITH FOCUS ON HONG KONG, SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA, AND KOREA
The Academy of Korean studies, South Korea
This study is designed to cast light on the issue of corruption from diverse viewpoints, which is so deeply rooted in every walk of life these days. Anti-corruption approaches on the part of the government are not expected to be so successful because the problem is too complicated. That is why appropriate comprehension of the issue is required first. Nowadays, for example, the corruption in Korea is so-called Systemic Corruption, as the author Caiden pointed out, against which a strong combination of legal and executive systems should be prepared. This study explores the anti-corruption and corruption-preventive systems in Asia, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore. In their analysis, research data and legislative contents in particular are thoroughly dealt with. This was possible because of the visits and interviews with personnel in those countries. Main focus in this study is put on the objectives as follows: First, to introduce the cases of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, which are noted for the success in anti-corruption and transparency, Second, to define each of the functions and problems of those countries anti-corruption systems, which are the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in Malaysia, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in Singapore, Lastly, to examine the current anti-corruption systems and their problems in Korea and the possible answers with focus on the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea and the Criminal Prosecution System in Korea.
Let us suggest, with a degree of benevolence, that the current administration has committed itself to serve its people faithfully in the name of the government of people. The commitment was considered as its pride and joy since it achieved the first overturn of political power against the past regimes, which were lacking in legitimacy. So it was now their will to reform the old misdeeds. Thus we see a democratic country normally has obligations to pursue justice and to devote itself to the public interest. These obligations consist of laws and systems, and institutions, which are implemented and controlled by the administrative parts of the government. However it follows that if the government is blind to the duties of the officials and the corruption of a few of its elite, then mistrust and confusion in its society will never disappear.
Presently we are witnessing an enormous collision of the corrupt and the anticorrupt thrashing about like surging waves. A recent scandal involving a president of a venture firm who was hit by bribery (to the value of about $800,000) by a garbageman of the Blue House (Korean President’s House, so-called Chong-Wa-Dae) reveals how deeply our society is corrupt (kim,1999). In fact, the issue of corruption in Korea is not a new thing. Since the first democratic government of Lee Seung Man (the first Korean president,1948~1960), all the following Korean administrations have tried to fight against corruption, but they failed. Although the first republic in Korea, for example, received enough Official Development Assistance (ODA) from overseas sources which gave them a chance to combat corruption, that republic collapsed due to various political corruption scandals – such as the rigged election of March 15th ,1960.
The third and fourth republics, which were established by the military coup d’etat of May 16th 1961,1972 were a little bit more successful in combating corruption through more innovative measures. Economic development under the dictatorship of the president Park Jung Hee, however, brought about corruption once more notwithstanding their avowed good aims. Ironically the corruption served as a catalyst for economic growth!
The fifth and sixth republics (through1981~1992) did not overcome the spate of corruption, and unfortunately the two ex-presidents, Chon Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo, were put into a judicial settlement. Inevitably the people’s mistrust towards the government was growing, since for decades the people had been suffering from the corruption. In addition, there had not been enough research or study upon any policy for anti-corruption, even though many people recognized how important it was to carry out systematic improvements to prevent corruption. Soon after President Kim Dae Jung’s inauguration in 1998, we – the people and the government – introduced and implemented various initiatives to combat corruption, resulting in success to some extent. Still, the corruption of political power was not completely abolished.
There is a characteristic of corruption in Korea that is a kind of time-honored tradition without which a social success would be almost impossible. What is called ‘a culture of corruption’ dominates the everyday lives and the minds of the public. That is why, in order to combat corruption, we need to reform consciousness as well as innovate change in the conduct of administrations. Successful models of anti-corruption elsewhere should be considered. Corruption in Korea even acted as a spring-board for the careers of public servants, and as a lubricant for economic development. For too long the officials have remained complacent in the culture of corruption under regimes lacking in legitimacy. Unless we eradicate corruption from our society, even the basic frameworks of our nation may be threatened: and by not acting we will not strengthen our competitiveness. Thus, ‘corruption’ has to be explored for many reasons, and we must analyze how to create effective anti-corruption measures.
This chapter is trying to cast light on corruption from many different viewpoints. Focusing on four countries in Asia – Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Korea – it considers the anti-corruption infrastructures and their corruption prevention systems of the first three countries in order to comment on the situation in Korea. To gather primary evidence, the author visited the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in Singapore – their legislative instruments and their research data were the main focus.
The key points that will be emphasized are:
· First, we introduce cases in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia that were success stories in combating corruption,
· Second, we offer an analysis of the roles of
Ø the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in Malaysia,
Ø the ICAC in Hong Kong, and
Ø the CPIB in Singapore.
· Lastly, we review the current administrative situation with respect to Korean corruption, and we suggest possible countermeasures – focusing on the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea.
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS
The anti-corruption measures in Asia are noted for their strict, even harsh, punishment levels, and their strong legal enforcement acting against corruption. Most Asian countries already have appropriate laws and they apply them. For instance, Korea has the Law on the Public Servants, the Public Servants in Provinces, and the Public Servants’ Ethics, but they are not effectively enforced. In this chapter we will examine why this is generally so.
1). Hong Kong
Before the mid 1970’s Hong Kong was totally spotted by corruption. At that time people in Hong Kong used phrases that reflected social corruption. “To get on the bus” meant to actively get involved in corruption; “to run with the bus” was just to remain indifferent to corruption; also “to stand in front of the bus” meant to make known or resist corruption. The first two were practical choices for people, but the last was considered impractical (Manion, 1996).
In 1948, Hong Kong set the Law on the Prevention of Corruption Ordinance, which strictly punished congressmen, businessmen, and the government officials who committed corruption. Imprisonment up to five years and a fine up to $10,000 was possible. There was a special body called Anti-Corruption Branch established under the Police Department, but it was too inefficient. So the legislature formed the Standing Committee on Corruption in 1957 and it included the executive and the legislative personnel by 1960. In 1971, the Law on the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance was set up, which indicated that if a public servant possesses or maintains inappropriate wealth, he or she might be accused of the crime of corruption. If he or she hides his or her belongings, it is a crime too. A delegation from the United Kingdom, headed by Mary Maclehose, came to Hong Kong in order to advise on the eradication of corruption. It supported the creation of the Basic Law on Independent Commission against Corruption Ordinance in February of 1974, which instantiated the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC). At first it was criticized because it was not in harmony with Chinese customs and tradition. Today, Hong Kong is known worldwide for having a clean civil service and providing a level playing field in business (although there are underground hints, now it has reverted to the force of Beijing, that it will soon approach the levels of corruption seen in mainland China. The slogan “One China – two laws” can not be maintained for long as the border between Hong Kong and the mainland become more free and the neighbors [with their different ethics] more freely mingle).
Hong Kong‘s success in substantially reducing corruption has been hard earned by a close partnership between the community and the ICAC. ICAC has the powers of investigation, arrest, and detention and of granting bail, which are fundamental to any law enforcement agency. It contributed to maintaining Hong Kong as a fair, just, stable and prosperous community. It also educated the public against the evils of corruption by the use of television and radio commercials, as well as by printing advertisements to publicize the work of the ICAC.
(2) Organization and Activities
The Commission has three Departments (i) of Operations, (ii) Corruption Prevention and (iii) Community Relations. The ICAC was given specific legal powers to bring the corrupt to book under the law of Independent Commission against Corruption Ordinance.
· First, the ICAC has the powers of arrest, detention and of granting bail for misuse of office, as well as crimes facilitated by or connected with suspected corruption offences.
· Second, the Commissioner or the Vice-Commissioner has the power of issuing a warrant for the arrest perpetrators of corruption-related crimes regardless of public or private.
· Third, the Commissioner or the Vice-Commissioner has the powers of investigation to unravel and identify the transactions and assets concealed in different guises by the corrupt.
These powers include:
Searching bank accounts;
Holding and examining business and private documents;
Requiring the suspects to provide details of their assets, income and expenditure.
· Fourth, the Commissioner or the Vice-Commissioner makes every ICAC officer vow not to receive bribery from anyone.
The Operations Department receives, considers and investigates alleged corruption offences, while the Community Relations Department educates the public against the evils of corruption and enlists public support in combating corruption. The Corruption Prevention Department examines practices and procedures of government departments and public bodies to reduce corruption opportunities and offers corruption prevention advice to private organizations upon request. Its Commissioner is directly answerable to the Chief Executive, so the independence of the Commission is assured. The chief of each department can limit the power of his subordinate if that person’s behavior is suspected, such as prohibiting the disposing of his belongings or to request their financial disclosure statements. Also ICAC officers can arrest and detain each other without a warrant. They are not affected by personnel administration, and usually get higher salaries than other governmental officials – which helps combat any inclination to accept monetary ‘gifts’.
(3) Ethics Code of Public Servants
According to the Law on Bribery Prohibition, and the Chief Executive’s Command on Receiving an Entertainment, the public servants of Hong Kong must follow ethics code as follows (Chun Soo Il, 1999):
1. in Hong Kong the public servants may not receive cash, securities, gifts and entertainment without permission from the Chief Executive. If the gifts are no more than ordinary for other people and are not directly related with the job, they are acceptable.
2. a public servant’s loan from a friend cannot be more than HK$2,000 and it must be paid back before 14 days.
3. in case a public servant receives a gift not in accordance with the code of conduct, he or she must obtain a prior approval from his or her chief. If the public servant fails to obtain a prior approval, he or she must obtain an ex post facto approval.
4. a chief should order his or her subordinate officials to return honorarium which is not approved. If it is impossible to return it, the chief should dispose of it.
5. any public servant who is in violation of the Chief Executive’s Codes on Ethics faces a fine of HK$100,000 or 1 year’s imprisonment.
Asian countries with their background based on a Confucian culture, with few exceptions, are challenged by the problem of active corruption in their higher echelons, although the population generally may enjoy reasonable economic development. Singapore is the exception. It has kept its government free from corruption since its independence in 1965, and it has maintained an annual growth rate of about 9%, with a national income per capita of around US$32,000.
As far as their politics is concerned, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of the incumbent Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew has held political power for 40 years. Unlike the saying ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, the PAP is cited as a reasonable example of transparent politics. There is not even a hint of the term ‘political fund’. By minimizing the election campaign fund, the headquarters of PAP is funded only by its members’ dues, and each district party chapter is funded by subsidiary businesses such as kindergartens, and bazaars.
For higher officials a strict code of ethics is applied. Tan Kia Khan, who was the ex-prime minister Lee’s right-hand man, was punished for a scandal relating to accepting commissions from the Boeing Company in 1965: he was a minister of National Development at that time. And in 1976, Wi Tun Buhn, a secretary of state and alumni of Mr. Lee, was sent to the prison for corruption.
Singapore demands that administrative officials strengthen self-control or self-inspection for the purpose of eradicating the causes of corruption. By providing high salaries, rewards and excellent working conditions for the public officials, Singapore makes them more devoted to their work and thus helps prevent possible corruption (Quah, 1995, 1999).
The anti-corruption efforts by the top leadership such as Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew plays a very important role. Mr. Lee publicly announced that he has no individual possessions, and the opposition parties were never able to blame him for such matters. Nor could the western press ever criticize his integrity, although it mentioned his dictatorship – since they are fundamentally inclined against dictatorships.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, formulated in 1937, was revised in 1960 to have more binding powers. The main point was to grant a stronger power to the director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). The director is appointed by the Prime Minister, and can arrest corruption-related suspects without a warrant. Criminals accused of corruption may face imprisonment up to 7 years, with fines.
Established in 1952, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is an independent body that investigates and aims to prevent corruption in the public and private sectors in Singapore. From the 1940’s to the 1950’s corruption and violation were widespread in Singapore. In those days all the crimes relating to corruption were handled by the Anti-Corruption Branch – known simply as the Singaporean police. The Branch, however, did not achieve satisfactory results, in part, because the policemen themselves were stained with corruption. That is why there emerged a strong need for an organization to investigate corruption that was itself independent from the police. In the early days, the CPIB had some difficulty in collecting proof of individual corruption because the relevant laws were not efficient. Another problem was a lack of cooperation by the public sector. Most of the public officials were doubtful, and even scared, of the CPIB’s activities. After 1959, when the People’s Action Party took power, this situation began to change. The punishment against the corrupt officials became harsher and they purged corruption from public life. The CPIB restored the confidence of the public with respect to officials as the government was seen to have implemented the anti-corruption policies faithfully.
In 1960, the government of Singapore established more still effective law against corruption – the Prevention of Corruption Act. The CPIB derived its powers of investigation from the Chapter 241 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. And a new law, Corruption (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, was passed in 1989. This law empowers the court to confiscate and freeze all the properties gained through corruption.
(3) Organization and Activities
Elimination of corruption in Singapore was possible because of the severe institutional mechanism. The Prevention of Corruption Act established in 1960 strongly precludes corruption of politicians and public officials. Further, the CPIB is headed by a director who is directly responsible to the Prime Minister. The bureau consists of 49 officials, among whom there is one director, two deputy directors, five assistant directors and 41 special investigators. There are two divisions in the bureau, one is the operation division and the other is a specialist support division. Each of division is responsible to a deputy director.
The main activities of the CPIB are as follows:
1. the bureau is responsible for safeguarding the integrity of the public service and encouraging corruption-free transactions in the private sector.
2. it is also charged with the responsibility of checking on malpractice by public officers and reporting such cases to the appropriate government departments and public bodies for disciplinary action.
3. besides bringing corruption offenders to book, the bureau carries out corruption prevention by reviewing the work methods and procedures of corruption-prone departments and public bodies to identify administrative weaknesses in the existing systems which could facilitate corruption and malpractice. It recommends remedial and prevention measures to the heads of the departments concerned.
Although the primary function of the bureau is to investigate corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is empowered to investigate any other seizable offence under any written law that is disclosed in the course of a corruption investigation. With enough suspicion the bureau can arrest the suspect without a warrant (Kim Byung Chul, 1996).
(1) Anti-Corruption Law
This law, established in 1997, contains much against corruption. Especially the system of a director-general is notable. This person, the director-general, is held responsibility for the following under this law –
1. he receives reports and must follow-up enquires upon them.
2. he must investigate any suspicious acts.
3. he helps disclose any crimes he enquires about – discussing the practices, systems, and procedures in the public sector and undertakes to correct them.
4. to prevent any more corruption, he guides and instructs the corruption-related criminals.
5. he gives advice to the chiefs in the public sector to assist them in changing their practices and systems to minimize the possibilities of corruption.
6. he educates the public in detail about anti-corruption.
7. Lastly, he enlightens people upon the reasons they should combat corruption.
(2) Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA)
In parallel with the national vision, in 1996 the ACA formulated its own vision, mission and strategies. They are meant to put into focus the need for a concerted effort in the fight against corruption, while at the same time to devise and to fine-tune other workable solutions. Based on the information they collect, the ACA prosecutes anyone with any provable case of corruption or any offence under the corruption laws or generally prescribed laws.
While the ACA procures, collates and vets all information received for the efficient detection and identification of all forms of corrupt activities and abuse of power, it inquires and investigates cases of corruption, malpractice and abuse or power efficiently and rapidly. By enforcing the laws and the regulations fairly and firmly, their sovereignty and that of the public and the nation’s interests are consistently upheld. The ACA is also empowered with specific administrative powers enabling it to endorse or submit reports to the heads of departments to initiate disciplinary action against civil servants; or for the identification of weaknesses in the departments’ machinery with suggestions as to their remedies. Ordinarily these reports are forwarded as offshoots of investigations of corruption cases.
Through the studies and appraisal of the administrative and management systems of specific government agencies or departments, the ACA detects weaknesses that provide potential opportunities for corruption, and so makes appropriate recommendations for their remedy. Vetting exercises are also carried out to ensure that only those not under active investigation by the ACA, or those with criminal records in the ACA, are considered for promotion, appointment to important positions, or have offers of awards or optional retirements. It is encouraging to note that certain financial institutions before finalizing their own recruitment of top managerial positions send the candidates’ names to the ACA for vetting.
To help build a corruption-free society grounded on universal spiritual and moral values and spearheaded by a clean, efficient and trustworthy government, the ACA works in cooperation with the government and the world-class anti-corruption organizations. It formulates and mounts anti-corruption campaigns through the mass media, forums, seminars, workshops, joint operations, conducting surprise checks, etc. In order to upgrade the ACA into a highly professional and reputable agency, they develop systematic and organized human resources development and proactive leadership programmes. Special attention is focused upon enhancing the leadership and management quality at all levels of ACA officers through the application of these human resource development programmes, the management of information technology and through improved work processes.
The government of Malaysia has endorsed the ACA’s three-pronged strategy spelt
out in its vision, namely:
. Reinforcement/Consolidation Strategy
Through this strategy, among other things, proposals for the improvement of the ACA’s scheme of service, financial allocation, manpower development and the strengthening of relationship with other agencies are being made.
. Prevention and Promotional Strategy
Under this strategy, the ACA, with the backing of the Government Special Cabinet Committee acts as an adviser to both government and provincial agencies in their planning and implementation of preventive programmes towards instilling an awareness on the evils of corruption. This is being done through talks and dialogues and the distribution of videotapes containing inspiring religious talks, or corruption dramas on anti-corruption themes. One objective is to motivate or encourage them to combat corruption within their folds. Another is to give appropriate recognition to individuals or agencies that have exhibited exemplary conduct in combating corruption directly or indirectly.
. Enforcement Strategy
This strategy focuses on law enforcement efforts which includes reviewing the effectiveness and adequacy of the existing laws on corruption, especially the provisions pertaining to investigation, prosecution and sentencing. As a matter of fact, a comprehensive proposal amalgamating the laws on corruption has been drafted, and it is being studied by the Attorney General’s Office.
2. Comparative Analysis Of Anti-Corruption Systems
Administratively the region is in a little flux. Hong Kong, once a British colony for a long time, is now a Special Administrative Region since its return to China 1997. And Singapore is a city-state, which became independent from the Malaysian Federation in 1965. Currently the People’s Action Party (PAP) of Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is the ruling party of Singapore, while Hong Kong is now a Special Administrative Region of People’s Republic of China, under the governance of the Chief Executive, Tung Chee Hwa. It follows that the anti-corruption bodies in most of the Asian countries are very diverse. For instance – a secretariat of the president, a public prosecutor, the police, the Board of Audit and Inspection, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) are all the examples of the relevant anti-corruption authority according to the legal system of the countries in focus in this chapter. In the case of Korea, the Board of Audit and Inspection is a constitutional and independent organization; also, the law on the Board of Audit and Inspection specifies its role of audit and inspection.
The ICAC of Hong Kong and the CPIB of Singapore both have common functions and powers in keeping with the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea, but in the field of anti-corruption, they have stronger powers than those made available to the Board of Audit in Korea. While this Board in Korea does not have the power of investigation (it only indicts the public prosecutor), the ICAC of Hong Kong and the CPIB of Singapore have not only the power of investigation, but also of arrest without a warrant. In Korea, a warrant must be requested by the prosecutor and issued by the court.
We might see that Hong Kong and Singapore deals with corruption through mechanisms independent of government but have quite different duration since incorporation. The ICAC of Hong Kong was established in 1974 and the CPIB of Singapore in 1952 (although the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of Singapore was created as a part of Criminal Investigation Department in 1937), while the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) of Korea was established in 1948. Later, in Korea, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC) was set up in April 1993 as an advisory body for the Chairman of the BAI. More recently under the Kim Dae Jung administration the Presidential Commission on Anti-Corruption was established as an advisory body to the President on September 10th 1999. Independent working against corruption is commonplace in Hong Kong and Singapore, yet despite strong powers and roles, the BAI and the public prosecutor in Korea are very poor in fulfilling their role. Perhaps one reason is that the staff of the BAI in Korea is only about 800, while ICAC of Hong Kong has more than 1,400 and Korea has a vastly greater geographic spread. While the public prosecutor in Korea is criticized by the people about his independence and neutrality, those discharging equivalent positions in Hong Kong and Singapore enjoy the support of people and they never yield to any pressure. Hong Kong and Singapore have established anti-corruption laws, while in Korea the ultimate law is still pending in their parliament. While the CPIB of Singapore is responsible to the Prime Minister and the ICAC of Hong Kong to the Chief Executive, the BAI of Korea is under the President of the Republic as a Constitutional government agency.
Most countries attempt to carefully control the corruption of the public officials legislating against bribery, frauds, theft, misappropriation, tax evasion, drug traffic, gambling and malpractice of business. In a sample of Asian countries we may see that anti-corruption laws were established in Singapore in 1960, in Hong Kong in 1948, in Thailand in 1975, in Malaysia in 1961 and in India in 1947. The US and the UK also established relevant laws to cope systematically with corruption. But it is only recently, in 1999, following the concerted pressure by the OECD that its member countries agreed to act coherently against corruption, and became signatories to its anti-corruption charter.
ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS AND STRATEGIES IN KOREA
1. Anti-Corruption Systems
Kim Dae Jung’s Administration has launched comprehensive anti-corruption programmes in response to the people’s desire for a corruption-free society. The Korean people expected the government to reform the society overall as they have experienced and come to understand the adverse effects of corruption on the economy during the financial crisis and subsequent political turmoil. Although Korea rapidly attained enormous economic development in only a few decades, the long-standing collusion between politics and business proved to be a major cause of the unprecedented economic crisis of 1997. The Korean Government’s new anti-corruption programmes now perfectly tie in with the efforts of the international community to eliminate corruption around the world. In conformity with the anti-bribery treaty that was signed by members of the OECD and went into effect in February 1999, the Korean Government has also tightened its inspection and punishment of those businesses offering bribes to a foreign entity.
The main actions of the incumbent government are –
- the Government picked areas where corruption is most rampant – areas which include taxation, construction, the environment, the police and food control – and asked experts in each area to conduct research into ways to prevent corruption.
- the Government plans to establish anti-corruption systems by enacting laws and forming preventive organizations so that efforts to excise corruption can continue after the term of the Government of the People expires.
- the Government plans to drastically increase the participation of citizens in anti-corruption projects. Each and every citizen should become a watchdog. The Government plans to introduce diverse systems so that officials and private citizens can cooperate with each other.
- the citizens and the Government have thus joined forces to launch a nationwide campaign for the common goal of cleaning up Korean society.
We will now overview the main characteristics of Kim Dae Jung Administration’s anti-corruption programs.
a) KICAC and Presidential Commission on Anti-Corruption (PCAC)
The independent Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission was created on September 10th 1999, and it received a great attention from people. The special commission is mandated to –
1. help the Government establish anti-corruption policies, deliberate on Government practices, and make recommendations;
2. evaluate the progress of the anti-corruption programmes at all levels of public organizations;
3. carry out anti-corruption education and publicity;
4. support civic organizations’ clean-up activities both domestically and internationally; and
5. conduct surveys and collect materials for the formation of an effective anti-corruption movement.
There are of course differences of opinions about the Commission among the ruling party, the opposition party and the non-governmental organizations (NGO).
b) Protection of Whistleblowers
An advocatory system for the rights of employees to ‘blow the whistle’ on fraud, corruption, government waste, and violations of environmental laws is used as a corruption-controlling device in most of the developed countries. Kim Dae Jung’s Administration also introduced such a system enforcing civil watchdog procedures leading to punishment if found guilty. In order to encourage the prosecution of people the government specified in the Anti-Corruption Act that any successful prosecution against corruption may be rewarded 5 – 15% of the government income. Procedures for prosecution and the protection of whistleblowers are specified in the Act so that a prosecutor may not be identified, but protected. Punishment is prepared in case the accused perpetrates harm to the prosecutor, or if the prosecution is false.
c) Financial Disclosure of the Public Officials
When there is a financial change of more than US$10,000 a year in other than the specified salary, a financial disclosure statement for the increase is mandatory. The person should prove the financial increase, and if not, he or she is punished for a dishonest transaction and the non-disclosure of the fact. The power of investigation is strengthened.
d) Punishment of the Corruption-related person
The punishment has become stricter against accepting a gift of money or any other valuables, and even the pardoning and restoration of rights are limited.
In case anyone gets dismissed from office for corruption, it is forbidden to restore him within 5 years if the returning office is related to the previous one; or in 15 years if the returning office is the public arena; and in 10 years if he underwent a criminal punishment. A person or a corporate body that offers bribery is punished equally severely as the one who receives bribery – so that the bribery in civil society may be eradicated. For a gift of money or any other valuables the related interest, as well as the gift itself, is to be confiscated regardless of the giver or the receiver.
e) Privileges of the Former Post of Retired Officials
There are some cases in which retired officials who previously worked in the area related with approvals or permissions get a job in a related field. Herein they are very likely to act as a corrupt liaison between the public and the private. Thus, the government strictly controls and limits the retired public officials who apply for these jobs.
When judging whether the previous job of a retired official is related with the new one he or she is applying for, his or her previous job must be considered up to 3 years before retirement, and examined again during the 2 years before retirement. As for the companies a retired official may not work for, the government expanded the net of companies by replacing ‘the companies with capital $10,000,000 or more and with turnover of $30,000,000 or more’ with the new definition of ‘the ones with capital of $5,000,000 or more, and with turnover of more than $13,000,000’.
f) Citizen Ombudsman System
To make the system more easily accessible to citizens and to handle matters objectively from the citizen’s point of view, Kim Dae Jung’s Administration adopted the Citizen Ombudsman System. Focused in the areas that are the most susceptible to corruption – such as the construction sector – citizen ombudsmen are hired to monitor the procedures. If a given number of citizens request inspection (1000 in a central ministry, and 500 in a local province), an appropriate inspection agency must conduct inspection and report the result. By including a number of experts in governmental committees, as recommend by NGOs, it became possible to perceive if there is any corruption in the operation.
2. Evaluation and Problems
Like many other countries, Korea has tried to eradicate corruption through a series of legislative acts and systems on its own, but failed to root out corruption. Most of the policies resulted in a one-time event and will end at the expiration of the president’s term.
Soon after President Kim Dae-jung’s inauguration in February 1998, he launched a full-scale effort introducing and implementing various initiatives to uproot corruption, firstly focusing on the public sector. The comprehensive programs included plans for administrative reforms in corruption-prone areas such as housing, construction, the tax administration, police work, environmental management and the food-and-entertainment businesses. In consultation with experts and representatives of the private sector, the government provided for alternative policies. However, the Anti-Corruption Act, the Prohibition of Money Laundry, the Protection of Whistleblowers, and the Special Prosecutor Act are all stillborn due to the acute dispute between the ruling party and the opposition. Even worse, the Political Reform Act, which is aimed at reforming one of the main sources of corruption, has been cast away.
Meanwhile, some positive outcomes such as the Presidential Commission on Anti-Corruption (PCAC), Citizen Ombudsman System, and the innovation of many administrative regulations set the stage for new anti-corruption policies to be implemented. Unlike in the past administrations Kim Dae Jung’s Administration showed much more strenuous effort to engage in anti-corruption policy making. Nevertheless, the government has its own limits too in that the policies tended to be inclined towards political punishment.
When the PCAC was established there was a great deal of criticism about how it should be operated. Responsible directly to the president, the Commission plans and implements anti-corruption policies and provides advice to the President on issues relevant to fighting against corruption. As the Anti-Corruption Act was established, PCAC became confused in developing ways to improve existing government programs for preventing corruption. This shows the limitation of a temporary body, which includes members from the private sector, in the struggle for hegemony among the public prosecutor, the BAI, and the Chong Wa Dae. In addition, the overlap of the work with the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC), which is an advisory body for the Chairman of BAI, resulted in inefficiency of the anti-corruption systems.
3. New Ways Of Anti-Corruption Systems
a) Independence of the Board of Audit and Inspection
The BAI does not have powers of investigation nor of jurisdiction even though it can charge, and request punishment. With this entire backdrop the work of the BAI against corruption is faced with limitations.
In spite of the inspection of the performance of government operations and duties of government officials, the BAI was limited to ex post facto measures rather than preventive ones. To be able to investigate the entire range of corruption, the BAI first needs to be strengthened in terms of human resources. It is doubtful whether the BAI staff of only 850 can cover all the audits and inspections of all the public officials in Korea. Kim Young Sam’s Administration have intended to revise the laws regarding the BAI, but they did too little. Realistic institutions should be introduced.
We suggest several ways to create a stronger BAI –
- the BAI needs to be reorganized and enlarged. Currently it has only one division for inspection of performance of government operations and duties of government officials. It is short-staffed too. The current level of ‘inspector’, which corresponds to a deputy minister, should be upgraded to the level of minister. And to collect information secretly about the corrupt officials, a new task force needs to be installed in the BAI – something like the Performance Inspection Intelligence.
- to revise the laws about the BAI the responsibilities and rights regarding the inspection of the governmental works need to be redefined in greater detail. Integration of all the separate inspection bodies in each administrative system at all levels should also be considered. A system for the dispatching of inspectors from the BAI to each governmental body needs to be examined. The BAI should be able to have its branches spread all over the local provinces.
- the BAI needs more empowerment. Even though it has the power of audit and inspection, it does not have the right of investigation. This limits the BAI to cope only with the ‘side works’, not the main part.
- scientific research and analysis should be added to the workflow of the BAI so as to derive better the direction of inspection policies.
It is quite important to evaluate the BAI in a systematic way to search for better implementation of its policies. In addition, it can be debated as to whether the BAI should belong to the executive branch or to the parliament. Also the BAI should be empowered to chase the bank accounts involved in the corruption; thus the Constitution and/or the laws for the BAI need to be reconsidered to determine its independence.
b). Anti-Corruption Law
In order to prevent corruption by government employees, the anti-corruption law has called for the formulation of a code of conduct for civil servants, and for strengthening of the financial penalty against corrupt officials and citizens. This is done by recovering any personal gains (and government losses) caused by corrupt practices, as well as confiscating the bribe itself. Provisions for establishing and managing an anti-corruption organization, citizen watch groups and public participation in anti-corruption movements, the codes of conduct for public servants, the education and public information campaigns to strengthen public awareness against corruption were all included in the law.
Presently most of the Asian countries have legislative measures against corruption. The anti-Corruption Law was established in Singapore in 1960, much earlier in Hong Kong in 1948, and in Malaysia in 1961.
A couple of years ago, the Korean National Assembly passed the anti corruption Bill submitted by the Millennium Democratic Party on June 28th 2001 after more than five years of discussions. It is expected to go into effect by January 2002 following presidential approval. This law allows for the creation of an Anti Corruption Commission under the presidential office, the protection of whistle-blowers, the people’s right to ask for an audit and inspection, rewards for reporting corrupt activity, and sanctions against officials fired for corruption. According to the law anybody finding evidence of corruption can report it to the commission, while government officials are mandated immediately to notify it of illegal acts. People within government organizations reporting corruption will be protected from any discriminatory action in the workplace, through those making false reports face up to ten years imprisonment. Officials fired for corruption will be banned from working in any similar posts for five years (Chosun IlBo, 2001).
c). International Cooperation
The public prosecutor’s offices (PPO) in Japan and Italy, on the basis of their solid and rigid independence, put an end to the oligarchy in their countries, which had lasted for over 50 years after World War II. This was possible because they actively investigated the illegal connections between the politics and the businesses such as the Mafia or the Yakusa. The PPOs of both countries commonly enjoyed the neutrality, the independence, and the strong support from their people and what might be described as their divine dedication to the work. The ICAC of Hong Kong, responsible only to the Chief Executive, secures its independence from the government and the political hierarchy. The ICAC educates people about the issues deriving from corruption, as well as preventing the corruption by its own investigations. In addition, the ICAC metes out severe punishment to corrupt officials, and searches for transparent personnel administration. The CPIB of Singapore also develops various programmes to fight corruption and institutionalizes these routines. Thus, in order to maximize the effect of anti-corruption policies Korea should observe and take into account such foreign success models – especially those successful Asian models. As a consequence we might see the interaction between the ICAC, the CPIB, and the ACA of Malaysia. Education programmes will become possible, in which staff are selected from the anti-corruption bodies such as the BAI or the PPO, and exchanged with foreign institutions for mutual benefit.
4. Strategies and efforts to combat corruption in Korea
The honest national leaders who have lived in the Asian countries generally state something like – ‘the immoral and unethical behavior in the public service is one of the most serious problems that obstructs national and democratic development’ (Gould, 1983).
The implementation and operationalization of efficient anti-corruption strategies are significant and effective. In particular, considering the causes of painful changes in previous political regimes and their failures to combat corruption, we may point out clearly that the need for integrated strategies for controlling corruption in Korea is urgent. However, a one-time campaign has been seen to have an extremely limited impact on the level of corruption in a given polity (Theobald,1990). That is, we need a sustainable and integrated strategy for controlling corruption. These strategies need to be dynamic and workable in order to attain the ultimate goal.
Some plausible anti-corruption strategies are noted as follows –
1) taking the causes of the failures of past regimes into consideration, the current Korean administration is aggressively pursuing comprehensive and systematic corruption prevention policies in cooperation with the public and business through basic strategies –
· Promotion of administrative reforms in corruption-prone areas
· Establishment of anti-corruption infrastructure
· Expansion of citizen participation in administration and anti-corruption activities
· Building public support for anti-corruption programme
· Systemic implementation and enforcement of anti-corruption policies and programs
2) since 1999, the government has identified 100 priority tasks necessary to prevent and eliminate corruption. Among these, 30 tasks are ‘general’ tasks that should be implemented throughout the government; and the other 70 tasks are more specifically aimed at addressing problems in corruption-prone areas such as housing, construction, tax administration, police work, environmental management, and food and entertainment business
3) unreasonable and excessive regulations can lead to corruption since people are likely to be tempted to bribe government officials in order to avoid their encumbrance in regulations – and government officials tend to abuse their abundant discretion to their own benefit. These aspects need to be addressed.
The anti-corruption systems of Asian countries have been reviewed with a focus on Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. Their models needed to be considered and linked to those of Korea because the latter suffers from inefficiency and a lack of an effective anti-corruption infrastructure. Systematic and strenuous activities of the ICAC or the CPIB can be very illuminating for the Korean situation. For example, the ICAC’s consistent effort to maintain the trust of people [towards itself] by swearing to root out corruption presents a lesson to Korea. The great success of the ICAC was possible only with the financial assistance from its ‘local’ people. Also the strict enforcement of laws by the CPIB in Singapore makes corruption disappear. Similarly the ACA of Malaysia severely punishes the public officials corrupt with bribery or property misappropriation.
Corruption being a complex and universal phenomenon in developing countries it is imperative that preventing corruption should be sought because it threatens the very pillars of the democratic experience in those countries (Werner, 1983). That is why we need to carefully observe the reality of corruption, and seek an effective anti-corruption strategy. As mentioned earlier, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong have struggled with their own strategies for controlling corruption. The experiences of Hong Kong and Singapore in preventing corruption show that it is not really difficult to minimize this aspect if a strong system and the political will is present – as well as having their citizen’s cooperation. Conversely, although such political will of the top political leaders in the case of Korea is strong, systematic and well-organized measures, and the efficient and effective anti-corruption discipline for the public officials are still lacking. As a consequence, it has been very difficult to reduce corruption in Korea. In this country, more dramatic incentives to encourage the public officials low morale should be implemented. The government should consider appropriate increases in the official’s payment structure (following the example of Singapore). Further, it should resolve promotion problems in its official hierarchy if the anti-corruption strategies are to work better (Kim, 1996).
One of the main reasons why the corruption is not eradicated in Korea is that without any integrated policy for anti-corruption there were just shocking one-time counter measure events. We have found there was no real coordination network, nor a working linkage handling the anti-corruption drive, which led to a hegemony struggle among the relevant organizations. In addition, there was no educational programme, nor any public campaigns that could promote awareness against corruption. Now, with such problems in mind, the Korean Government should seek for a comprehensive and systematic approach in dealing with corruption problems and consider the successful cases of other Asian countries.
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