New S Korea graft law bites to­day

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SOUTH Korea’s new anti-graft laws de­signed to curb paid-for favours will make it il­le­gal for gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees, pri­vate school teach­ers and jour­nal­ists to ac­cept meals worth 30,000 won (US$26) or more.

Res­tau­rant owner Roh Young-Hee told AFP the num­ber of reser­va­tions has fallen sharply as cus­tomers are ap­par­ently wor­ried they might be caught in breach of this law which comes into ef­fect to­day.

“There are meals of dif­fer­ent price ranges in the world, but with 30,000 won you can­not pro­duce de­cent Korean dishes,” she said.

The leg­is­la­tion, the lat­est ef­fort to curb low-level cor­rup­tion en­demic in South Korea, tar­gets teach­ers bribed by par­ents to give bet­ter grades, jour­nal­ists paid to give favourable pub­lic­ity and of­fi­cials paid to speed up bu­reau­cratic pro­cesses.

The ban also for­bids teach­ers, of­fi­cials and jour­nal­ists ac­cept­ing gifts worth 50,000 won or higher, and cash gifts above 100,000 won for wed­dings or fu­ner­als.

In the past, peo­ple charged with re­ceiv­ing bribes got away with a slap on the wrist or were ac­quit­ted as it was hard to prove that money or gifts changed hands in re­turn for a favour in­stead of as a to­ken of hos­pi­tal­ity.

Some crit­ics say the law’s tar­get­ing of pri­vate sec­tor work­ers is po­ten­tially un­con­sti­tu­tional and that the gov­ern­ment rushed the law through as a sop to pub­lic opin­ion.

“Pun­ish­ment is a short-term mea­sure. We need ed­u­ca­tion to raise pub­lic aware­ness,” said Kim Young-chul of the Korean As­so­ci­a­tion for Anti-Cor­rup­tion Pol­icy Stud­ies.

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