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Watchdog chief vows to fight corruption

Jan. 13, 2011 - 18:36 By 김소현
Kim Young-ran, the new chief of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, said Thursday the rights watchdog would focus on rooting out irregularities among high-ranking officials this year.

“Most corruption starts from asking for special favors,” Kim said in a meeting with auditors of public organizations including government ministries and local administrations at the panel’s office in Seoul.
Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission Chairwoman Kim Young-ran gives a New Year speech about the commission’s plans for anti-corruption in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

“Each and every public official must be mentally armed enough to turn down requests for special favors. The ACRC will set guidelines on what civil servants can or cannot do.”

Kim called on the auditors to create an incorruptible climate and impose strong punishment on corrupt officials.

Referring to a series of recently reported irregularities among public officials, Kim said such cases weaken public trust and therefore undermine national development.

Executives of several state-funded companies earlier this month were found to have accepted bribes from contractors while dozens of senior public officials were found to be gambling addicts.

“The public now expects high integrity from civil servants. Not just graft but also unfairness, ambiguity, nepotism, paternalism and entertainment can be perceived as corruption,” she said.

“Each public organization should push for its own effective anti-corruption policies. Please make sure they don’t end up being one-time measures focused on short-term progress.”

Kim, who became the nation’s first female Supreme Court justice in 2004, is widely expected to play a key role in pushing ahead with President Lee Myung-bak’s “fair society” campaign.

Unlike many former justices who take up high-paying jobs at law firms upon resignation, Kim taught at Sogang University’s law school after leaving the top court.

Kim is known for working to enhance the rights of minorities and the socially vulnerable while working as the Supreme Court justice for six years through 2010.

Kim, 54, has opposed capital punishment and the patriarchal family registry system called “hoju-je.” She has also supported the introduction of an alternative service for those objecting to military service based on religious belief.

Since passing the national bar exam in 1978 after graduating from Seoul National University, Kim has served in a variety of court positions including at the Suwon District Court and the Daejeon High Court.

By Kim So-hyun (