Interview With Kim Byung Cho On Corruption
Kim Byung Cho is a researcher and has been teaching Business and Economics at HUFS MIS from 1998 to 2014, before that, he was a professor at Purdue University from 1996 to 1997, and a CPA from 1988 to 1990. He also did military service in 1987.
First time he went to Myanmar was in 2011, for a week. In his latest visit he went there in February 2014 for a partnership with people for many projects in Myanmar, some projects are still in process. He used to consult and advice on business strategy, investment, marketing, manufacturing, distribution and so on.
According to Kim, Myanmar needs to create more electric generators, hydro and coal power, solar system and other such systems. A hydro project can take a long time, usually 6-8 years but it has a low manufacturing cost. Also for coal power generation – supplying coal continuously is necessary, he explained.
Currently, Myanmar depends more on Japanese companies for its business partner. The Japanese have a lot of experts in Yangon. For example, they are doing projects on ports and many other things. Similarly, the Chinese are influencing Myanmar. The Koreans are different from them, Kim explained, Korea isn’t interested in conquering other countries, it is just interested in business. However, the Korean government doesn’t have any experts in Myanmar, so there are no big Korean projects being done by private businessmen, because they are so risky to it. For example, the Samsung company asked about industrial sites but the Myanmar government doesn’t want to them to do it from the Myanmar Government. The Myanmar Government said you can come and do everything here by yourself.
The Myanmar government hasn’t paid much attention to foreign exports. Another big problem is corruption in Myanmar. In the case of Korea, corruption can improve and is changeable, for example, a minister can’t ask for bribes from business firms in Korea, but is possible in Myanmar, Kim pointed out. Most developing countries are doing the same thing, for example, Lao, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, in Africa and South America.
They are struggling to create a social security network, which is needed to overcome corruption, only then can the corruption issue be solved. In the Myanmar government’s view corruption is usually accepted and the government also thinks bribes are not that bad. Because the country can’t pay enough salary to employees, Kim suggests all public worker’s expenses should be covered by the government in order to reduce the bribery system, thus replacing the bribery with a tax system. He also says bribery is prepaid.
In the case of Korea, Korean minister’s may not allowed to accept bribes from others, but they do bribe through their close friends. There are 3 kinds of Korean relationships: 1) family relationship, 2) schoolmate relationship, and 3) regional based relationship. These 3 relations continue for the rest of their lives, Kim confessed. Former President Lee Myungbak government’s project cost 35 billion dollar (for the 4 rivers project), this money has disappeared. Lee government pressured his predecessor Roh Moo-hyun about corruption, this lead to his suicide.
Also the Joongang, Donga Ilbo news are pro-government newspapers, instead of reporting corruption news they showed North Korean news. These news agents received government support indirectly, such as a permit for cable TV by the Lee government. Kim believes Korean corruption can be changed by the average person, because the 50 million population are tired of corruption.
In Korea, for the young people there is an education system problem. Korean education focuses only on examinations and high scores. Students learn a philosophy of only studying for exams, become less capable and skilled, the bad habit of drinking is spread out through the student
population including among women, this is very disappointing to Prof Kim. To improve the education system, Prof Kim suggests to change the admission system at university, each university should select for admission.
Reducing government control can give more social entity for freedom, create stricter legislation and regulation. South Korea has a good judicial system but there a lot of exceptions. Prof Kim believes it is important to know those technocrats and bureaucrats who are trustworthy. For example, Singapore is good at replacing public officers with technocrats. Therefore, government should allow more power sharing, not dictating, and create a good relationship with investors.
Kim Byung Cho finished his PhD in Business Information Systems from Purdue University, Indiana state in 1996. He finished his MBA in accounting from Ball State University. He finished his CPA in 1986 and is among only 80 Koreans who completed this in each year. His BA in International Trade was from Kyunghee University and was completed in 1984.