Corruption, Petty Politics Still Hurting Korea
Cooper, Cameron, Business Asia
Eliminating corruption and reforming the political sector are prerequisites for sustainable economic growth in South Korea, according to President Kim Dae Jung.
While the need to restructure the nation's economy and debt-laden conglomerates has been well documented, Kim claims reforms must go further.
"Economic reforms alone are not enough, and we have turned our attention to non-economic areas as well," Kim told the CEO Summit conference in Auckland as part of the APEC talks.
"I have made the fight against corruption an on-going part of my administration ... The political leadership of my government is clean, but there is still much decay in the officialdom. I know all too well that no country with a high corruption index has joined the ranks of the advanced countries."
A pay-for-favours system is endemic across Korea in areas ranging from politics, school-teaching and journalism. Under this system, white envelopes containing money are dispersed in order to get preferential treatment.
During his state visits to New Zealand and then Australia, politicians from both sides were full of praise for Kim, who was labelled Asia's "preeminent democrat" by the ALP's Laurie Brereton. Kim said social and political reforms were an on-going challenge for his administration.
"We are trying to change the regionally divisive way in which political parties are organised and run, so as to open the way for nationally based political parties. …