“It’s regrettable that the law regressed from its original draft. The original draft included three key elements of banning unjust business favors and bribe taking and preventing public officials from pursuing private benefits in handling their given work. But the last element was omitted from the final law.”
“I think we can’t just criticize this as wrong at a time when there are already moves to reform in the civilian sector. The law, in particular, expanded its scope to fields with strong social responsibilities, so I also don’t think this violates people’s rights for equality.”
- Kim Young-ran, former head of Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission
SEOUL, March 10 (Korea Bizwire) – The former rights commission chief who proposed a controversial anti-corruption law expressed regret Tuesday that the law has been partly scaled down from the draft before passing the parliament.
Kim Young-ran proposed the so-called Kim Young-ran Law in June 2011 when she worked as head of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) to tighten loopholes in existing anti-corruption rules under which public officials cannot be punished for accepting expensive gifts and services unless there is evidence of reciprocity.
The law subjects public officials, journalists and private school faculty to a maximum penalty of three years in prison or a fine of five times the amount they accept in money or valuables if they take money or valuables worth more than 1 million won (US$908) from one person in one installment, regardless of whether it is in exchange for favors or related to their work.
Commenting on the controversy over the law’s constitutionality for including journalists and private school teachers among those subject to it, Kim said, “I don’t think this goes against the Constitution.”
She cited a recent public survey in which nearly 70 percent of South Koreans answered in favor of the inclusion.
Last week, the Korean Bar Association filed a petition with the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the law, arguing that it has elements that possibly go against the Constitution and problems of fairness.
The association said the law’s inclusion of journalists among those subject to it can infringe on freedom of the press and people’s rights for equality and the law’s articles requiring people to report their spouses’ acceptance of a bribe or expensive gifts to the authorities or face criminal punishment go against principles of freedom of conscience and self-responsibility in the Constitution.
During the news conference, Kim also voiced regret for the law’s limitation of the scope of family members with duty to report acceptance of bribes to “spouse.”
The event comes amid rival parties’ moves to amend the newly passed anti-corruption law among mounting questions over its scope and constitutionality.
The bill’s hasty passage is widely seen as an attempt by lawmakers to please voters ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections as public demand for the legislation has been high in a country where corruption involving public officials causes national outrage.
The law is scheduled to go into effect in September 2016 with a grace period of one and a half years from the day when it is promulgated.