UPDATE : 2019.8.26 MON 10:01
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Moon’s belt-tightening at Cheong WaDae wins high marksSweeping reforms in the offing

President Moon Jae-in has recently ordered a sweeping reform in the use of the Confidential Fund in the government, which is official called a ‘Special Activity Fund.’ Moon started carrying out the move beginning with his own office of Cheong WaDae. He ordered the saving of 5.3 billion won from the 16.1 billion won originally allocated. Then he told a meeting of his senior secretaries to come up with an overall improvement (reduction) plan to substantially cut back on the so-called Special Activity Fund.

President Moon Jae-in discusses the affairs of the state with secretaries.

The meal expenses of the family members of the President were eliminated from the list as President Moon ordered, “From now on such expenses will be paid from my own salaries.”

Now the National Assembly speaker, the prosecutor general, the national police chief and other heads of government organizations will have to follow his suit.

President Moon personally scoops food and puts on the mess plate at the commoners’ dining hall.

Ranking officials of a total of 18 different government organizations used a total of 886.9 billion won in the so-called Special Activity Fund last year. Use of this fund is justified only when it was inevitably done for the maintenance of the government secrets, including the preservation of confidential information and secret investigation of extremely sensitive cases.

In the use of this fund in the past, no one was required to submit a receipt and no one was required to explain where the money was used or for what purpose. Needless to say, question arose concerning the transparency of account in the use of the fund.

President Moon (in white shirts on the right) take buck wheat noddle with his staff members. Each meal costs 3,000 won less than 3 US dollars.

Therefore, the Government Confidential Fund used to carry a nickname, “Blind Money.” And in many cases, the Confidential Fund has been proven a ‘blind money.’

Very recently, a number of ranking officials of the Office of Prosecutors and the Ministry of Justice came under fire for distributing cash-containing envelopes among themselves, each containing cash ranging from one million won and over half million won.

The Confidential Fund used by the ranking government officials with immunity for the past decade of so all comes from Hyeol Se (literally Blood Tax or ‘tax paid by the sweat of one’s brow’). The Confidential Fund is considered one of the remnants of the past governments, which were not considered improper and illegal.

President Moon (second from left, foreground) talks with his staff members personally carrying a cup of coffee making a striking contrast with all his predecessors.

In this regard, the self-imposed reduction of the Confidential Fund at Cheong WaDae is accorded a high praise.

Due to such plausible changes as shown above, the popularity rating of President Moon continues to rise sharply, and it averaged higher than 80% with the latest one recording 81.6% on May 18, 2017. This is rated the highest among all Presidents in the Republic of Korea since the late President Kim Young-sam.

Since his inauguration on May 10, 2017, the popularity rating of Moon has been continuously rising thanks to his attitude well exemplified in his remarks, “I am no better than you!”

Envelops each containing dozens of 50,000 won note. Each envelop contains the name of the ‘donor’ (Chief of the Cheongdo Police Station Lee Hyeon-Eui)

As soon as he won the Presidential elections on May 9, 2017, Moon gave up almost all the special privileges of the President of the Republic of Korea--mingling with the common people literally with no members of the Presidential Security Team protecting him. Moon ate food and drank water on the street with people on the street and even at the Presidential Office of Cheong WaDae his lunch at the cafeteria was a simple bowl of noodles priced at only 3,000 won (less than US$3).

There are views that Moon is getting an extremely high rating of approval from the people partly due to the maladministration and many mistakes made by former President Park Geun-hye who is now on a trial on charges of receipt of bribes, abuse of the power of government and a number of other crime-suspected acts.

Madam Choi Soon-shil who is suspected to have brought former President Park Geun-hye to the present state of misery.

Korea has had two conservative governments before Moon, namely that of former President Lee Myung-bak and the last one of former President Park Geun-hye.

The Moon government has the full support of the people as seen in repeated opinion polls mostly in his favor.

However, there are enormous problems he has to tackle, which he has bequeathed from the preceding governments of Presidents Lee and Park.

이경식  edt@koreapost.com

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