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[Editorial] How long will election funding scandal drag on?

[Editorial] How long will election funding scandal drag on?

Posted January. 08, 2001 20:31,   


Partisan strife between the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) is expanding from bickering over the MDP's "lending" of three lawmakers to the splinter United Liberal Democrats (ULD) to the prosecution's investigation of the nation's top intelligence agency for allegedly illegally funding election campaigns by the former ruling New Korea Party (NKP), predecessor of the GNP. As a result, the economy, which had showed signs of reviving, is turning for the worse once again and projected reforms of state affairs and restructuring have come to a standstill. The people's sense of insecurity and distrust of politicians is deepening, raising fears that the nation may enter a major crisis if it remains on its current course.

Of course, we are not inclined to treat the MDP's lending of lawmakers to the ULD and the prosecution's probe of the intelligence agency's alleged funding irregularities as similar incidents. The alleged misappropriation of the state intelligence agency's funds should be thoroughly investigated in order to prevent its recurrence in the future. But if the probe into the illegal funding case was meant to cover up the political farce over the lawmaker-lending, we feel obliged to hold the ruling party responsible for provoking endless partisan strife.

In a bipartisan summit with GNP leader Lee Hoi-Chang on Jan. 4, President Kim Dae-Jung reportedly told the opposition that he was not in a position to order the prosecution to conduct or not conduct its probe into the illegal funding scandal, adding that it was looking into the case independently. However, MDP chairman Kim Joong-Kwon contended the following day that the GNP leader, once the ruling party's chief election campaign manager, must have known of the inflow of the intelligence agency's funds. Moreover, MDP spokesman Kim Young-Hwan said there is a high possibility that the Agency for National Security Planning, now the National Intelligence Service (NIS), diverted funds to the then ruling NKP ahead of the 1997 presidential election.

But the opposition GNP countered that the MDP offensive was a conspiracy to end the GNP chief's political career, demanding that suspicions over slush funds allegedly amassed by President Kim should be investigated at the same time.

It is hardly imaginable that funds amounting to over 2 billion won, which Kim confessed to having received from former president Roh Tae-Woo, came from the ex-president's private holdings. As for two other cases in which the president is suspected of illegally amassing funds, there will need to be investigations made to shed light on the allegations. The question is, does it make sense for the nation to waste its time in ferreting out the truth of the many allegations over election funding irregularities once and for all? The investigation into the illegal funding scandal should not be expanded to the point that it leads to full-scale war in the political sphere.

Prosecutor General Park Soon-Yong requested an immediate end to the inter-party conflict over the GNP case and said any further investigation should be entrusted to the prosecution. Accordingly, it is appropriate for Rep. Kang Sam-Jae of the GNP to comply with the prosecution's summons for questioning. Now is the time for all parties concerned to contemplate the people's misgivings and resentment.