Closing Session Goh Speech

Kun Goh, 10th IACC, Speech, Governance

 

Kun Goh:

Your Excellency, Vicente Fox Quesada, President of Mexico, Mr. Kevin Ford, Chairman of the IACC, Mr. Peter Eigen, President of Transparency International, distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great privilege to receive this special whistle to hold in on the next anti-corruption conference. The next conference in Seoul will be a special occasion, as it will be opened with the Global Forum in 2003. Prague has set such a high standard that it will be a difficult track for us to follow. However, in close cooperation with the TI Chapter and the 11th IACC organizing committee, we will make every effort to make the next conference as productive as any of the preceding ones.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. A government-led development year is at an end in Korea and we are now arranging to implement a market-led economy to proceed at a great speed. Efforts are being undertaken from all sectors of society to cast away the legacy of bureaucratic corruption and the collusion between politics and business. Seoul was the engine of compressed development and the legacy of the past years was most deeply rooted in its administration. However, the City of Seoul is now standing at the forefront of the anti-corruption reforms.

Two years ago in Durban I outlined the systemic anti-corruption iniciatives of the Seoul metropolitan government. As I indicated at the time, my emphasis was on reforming the entire administrative process and structure, so corruption could not take root. The four major lines of action were preventive measures, punitive measures, increased transparency, and enhanced public participation. Preventive measures included widely spread deregulation to reduce space for undue discretionary power, mass reshuffling of personnel in areas prone to corrupt practices, and the abolishment of areal jurisdiction in order to prevent patron-customer relationships. As for punitive measures, we have introduced the principle of zero tolerance for corruption. Citizens can inform the mayor directly of any wrongdoings through e-mail to the mayor, and the corruption report-cards system. I have made sure that every wrongdoer has been punished. As a minister I enhanced administrative transparency and public participation. I tried to do this as a one-line procedure with the enhancement of civil applications as an open system. The system increased the transparency of the administration by allowing the citizens to monitor the entire processing of the civil application from receipt to the final stages on the internet in real time. This eliminates the need for personal contact with officials and for the paying of the express fees.

In Durban I also explained about the anti-corruption index. This system evaluates the level of integrity of each administrative unit through direct survey of people who have actually had business with the city government, and the results are made public every year thereby promoting the government departments to enter into competition for integrity. Since the Durban conference we have not only steadfastly implemented these programs, but also devised some new programs. The Integrity Pact is a notable example. Under this program, when businessmen and civil servants enter into contract in connection with, say, procurement, construction or consulting, they pledge that neither side will offer or demand bribes under specific conditions of punishment. Five ombudsmen from civil organizations are acting as watchdogs, from the bidding process through to the termination of the contract. As for the measures to ensure transparency in public procurement, an electronic tendering system was introduced. These anti-corruption initiatives have now taken firm root as an everyday systemwide activity in the city administration.

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to report to you that these initiatives of the Seoul government have made significant progress in the past two years. According to various polls, the majority of citizens view that the City Hall has cleaned up its acts in terms of corruption. The results of the anti-corruption index itself have steadily improved in all fields. The open system, it seems, has become the trademark of Seoul. Since its first introduction in Durban, its merit was recognized by the OECD, the World Bank, the Asia Foundation, the American Society for Public Administration, and even the Time magazine. In Korea, all of the central government ministeries and many of the local governments are utilizing this open system. The open system will soon be distributed to the member states of the UN. Following an agreement between the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and myself, an international workshop of experts was held in Seoul to explore ways to supply the open system worldwide. The manual for the system is now being prepared in six languages.

The very essence behind the reform efforts of Seoul is to create an environment for individuals to stand firm against temptations. We realized the necessity for a constant monitoring system under which the administration is put under constant scrutiny of the public. In all these efforts we have strived to mobilize two resources whose latent potential is immense: civil society on one hand, and information technologies on the other. We have involved individual citizens and civil organizations in our collective fight against corruption. We have also utilized the emerging TIs to make the metropolitan government open to public surveillance and participation. This is the essence of the open system as well. The Seoul metropolitan government is in the process of integrating the parental open system with the city's computerized internal approval systems. It is in its final stages of development; it will be implemented by the end of the year. Not only will the transparency and productivity be improved even further, but also a genuinely two-way communication system will be established between the City Hall and the public.

Your Excellencies and honorable participants, the world is shocked over the tragedy in New York. If we define terrorism as an inhumane act that physically threatens our society from the outside, then we may say that corruption is an anti-ethical behavior that undermines the foundations of our society from the inside. Here lies the reason why we must wage war against corruption in league with all the nations of the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to seeing you in Seoul in two years. Thank you very much.

docClosing Session Goh Speech

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