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National reform should start by reforming social leaders
JULY 29, 2014 06:49  
According to a Dong-A Ilbo survey of 100 experts and 800 general public on major national reforms, respondents straightforwardly expressed mistrust on leaders of the society. Among respondents, the general public assessed their leadership as "F" and felt their professionalism was lagging behind leaders in the private sector. Less people considered all people are equal under the law and social leaders` law-abiding spirit lags that of ordinary people. Politicians, judicial officers and civil servants ranked the lowest in terms of trustworthiness.

The deadly sinking of ferry Sewol occurred as the basic framework of the society collapsed. Protecting life was neglected upon for the sake of own interests and the fundamentals were ignored for the sake of speedy handling. President Park Geun-hye, after the disaster, said she will remove deep-rooted evils of the past. However, she designated ministerial candidates whose qualifications were suspicious on thesis plagiarism or drunken driving when she launched her first cabinet reshuffle by pushing forward major national reform. One candidate said it is a practice to earn 1.6 billion won (1.6 million U.S. dollars) in five months as a lawyer considering career experience.

Post-Sewol should be different. The tragedy was a joint work among a company that failed to abide by principles and the basics, civil servants who took a blind eye to corporate misbehavior and the government "mafia". The surveyed people said the deep-rooted corruption was the biggest problem in Korea`s society. There was a consensus that national reform will have a long way to go unless we take out the corruption practices committed under regionalism and school ties by the people who have money and power. This is the very reason why social leaders should be reformed first. Singaporean wealthy and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew took stern legal action against bribery by his friend, then-national development minister. Singapore became the world`s most transparent country thanks to national corruption eradication efforts.

Respondents selected "to make a fair and safe country" for the question why national reform is required. Regarding a question originally rooted in economy and corporate management, "why innovation is need?" they chose fairness and safety over economic growth. The public believes that the nation should shift from quantitative to qualitative growth and from hardware-like expansion to software-like upgrade.

A Chinese saying goes, "adjust wrongdoings in face of crisis and set the nation right." Crisis is an opportunity to set right the nation`s fundamentals. Now is the golden time to reform our society. President Park is known to be formulating national affairs plans this week at the Presidential Office instead of going on a vacation. Her plans should direct towards seeking the right axis for the distant future of Korea.

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