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Living with integrity.

Corruption, which is the abuse of entrusted power and elected authority for private profits, poses a considerable obstacle to economic and social development around the world, negatively impacting sustainable development and particularly poor communities. It does so by raising transaction costs, undermining fair competition, impeding long-term foreign and domestic investment, and distorting development priorities. For businesses, corruption obstructs growth, escalates costs and puts companies' reputation into risks. Improbity or moral decay occurs when a decision-maker consents to or demands deviation from the appropriate decision-making criteria. It cannot be part of the justification of the decision.

On the other hand, integrity is the qualification of honesty, righteousness and strong moral principles. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself consistently to moral and ethical standards. As with all virtues, living with integrity is not something that you have, but something that you do. One does not come into the world automatically with integrity. Living with integrity requires rationality: a life that does not contradict integrity. It is fulfilled through living congruently with your understanding and principles. Integrity has the power to purify a corrupt society.

The president is not exempt in the efforts to root out. In the process to overcome and address the corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye, we saw how strong Korean people's opposition to corruption was and how much they protested until the former president was removed.

We know that corruption will not disappear entirely from society, but we need to continue making efforts to restrict corruption and to protect the poor and voiceless in our society as much as possible. In the end, all corruption costs are paid by the consumers and the taxpayers.

Korean society has a rich fabric of traditions, and gift giving is an important part of all aspects of Korean life. There are times when the lines blur between gift-giving and bribery, but the main difference is the purpose or motivation for giving a gift, and whether the giver expects something in return from the receiver. Bribery always leads to corruption, because it gives not for altruism but for personal gain.

All companies and public offices need robust anti-corruption measures and practices to protect their reputations and their stakeholders' interests. The public calls on companies to develop policies and programs to address all forms of corruption. Likewise, the biggest reason for Korea's notoriety as a corrupt nation is the public sector's lack of integrity and moral principles. Despite Korea's economic development, corruption remains rife in the public sector as shown by the recent flurry of scandals involving prosecutors and senior public officials.

The anti-graft law is hugely flawed, as it does not include lawmakers, who are prone to corruption and other ethical lapses. A parliamentarian who accepts bribes for using his or her influence and legislative power to endorse proposals that are profitable to certain entities should be condemned by the public. To uphold the original intent of the anti-graft law, political parties should revision it such that lawmakers are subject to the law. Emphasizing anti-corruption aims at improving individual behavior. Integrity reveals the true meaning of life by prompting humans to improving themselves and to stay true to themselves.

We cannot build an incorruptible nation unless integrity, ability and transparency take precedence over bribery, connections and favoritism.
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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Date:Dec 13, 2017
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