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[Editorial] Ex-President Kim must clarify his Tokyo remarks

[Editorial] Ex-President Kim must clarify his Tokyo remarks

Posted February. 11, 2001 19:33,   


Former president Kim Young-Sam`s remarks in Tokyo on a tax audit of media companies years ago are typical of his tendency to make incongruous and irrelevant statements. He obviously meant to contrast the ongoing government audit of local media outlets, which he characterized as an act of political retaliation and blackmail, with his decision to overlook the irregularities of media firms when they were uncovered in a similar audit during his term of office. The comparison is laughable.

The former head of state declared that he did not make public the results of the tax audit in 1994 lest they should imperil the survival of the aberrant media companies. If this is true, the results of the audit must be brought to light. Specifically, the identities of the offending companies must be made clear along with the amount of taxes each firm managed to evade and what irregularities were committed.

Making a sweeping condemnation of the local media without revealing the outcome of the audit is bound to deepen popular distrust of the media, thus posing a fundamental threat to the democratic institutions which sustain our society. Democracy can hardly survive where the entire media has fallen into discredit.

Kim said he only imposed fines for some of the offenses committed by the companies, which suggests that he bestowed lavish favors on them. It is beyond comprehension that a president would see fit to exempt firms from paying due taxes and thus violate laws on the state`s taxation rights.

In the final analysis, Kim is guilty of hypocrisy in that he admitted his attempt to tame the media years ago but now has the audacity to unleash his wrath on the incumbent government for doing the same.

With regard to the current state of affairs, we are deeply concerned with the escalating controversy over the campaign for press reform, which has been described as a "war against the media" or "media gangsterism." As we said earlier, investigations by either the tax administration or the Fair Trade Commission need to be carried out in accordance with due legal procedures and the media companies concerned ought to face the consequences of whatever wrongdoing they committed.

It is essential that the truth of the current tax audit, as well as that conducted in 1994, be uncovered beyond a shadow of doubt. All misgivings about the cozy relationship between the government and the media should be cleared once for all.

At the same time, the government should be aware that the media will not be tamed. Only spontaneous reform by the media themselves in response to the will of the people can improve the quality and boost accountability of the media. We are determined to boldly and proudly tread this path.