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[Editorial] Leadership Meeting to Reap Substantial Results

[Editorial] Leadership Meeting to Reap Substantial Results

Posted March. 12, 2003 22:25,   


Although the leadership meeting between the President and the main opposition Grand National Party failed to reach any detailed agreements, it deserves a positive assessment in that the meeting`s participants seemed to engage in honest talk concerning some thorny issues. In the past, although leadership meetings produced agreements, political parties used to immediately break those agreements. The newest leadership meeting that was conducted in the format of a discussion without an agreement is raising public expectations that it can provide a chance to achieve bipartisan politics in Korea.

President Roh`s decision to accept the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the secret cash payment to North Korea can be interpreted that the president reflected on public opinion before making decisions on state affairs. However, many Koreans share the view that it is undesirable for the president to limit the scope of the investigation in advance. The purpose of the investigation is to clarify who created the idea of the funds being remitted to the North, which channel was used to transfer the cash, and what cash provisions were made. In the investigation, the president promised to disclose full details of the creation of funds remitted to North Korea ahead of the inter-Korean summit in 2000 even by investigating aides of former president Kim Dae-jung. However, the president proposed excluding dealings with the North after the cash transfer from the investigation, citing that it would undermine inter-Korean relations down the road. Chances are that the investigation may fail to clear up all the suspicions surrounding the case.

Furthermore, because of the nature of the current probe by an independent counsel, the scope of the investigation will surely be limited. It may be impossible to ascertain who created the idea and what the funds were used for in a situation where the investigation team cannot investigate what happened in the North. In light of this fact, investigating the cash transfer seems inevitable in order to bring to light the whole truth.

The issue of the extent to which the detailed findings of the investigation will be publicized should be decided through a political compromise after the investigation is completed. If disclosing those details is to undermine the interests of Korea, the government can delay it for the time being after it asks for public understanding on the sensitivity of the case. Bearing these facts in mind, the ruling and opposition parties should bring to an end the controversial issue of launching the special investigation.

With another economic crisis looming, if the political circle is only absorbed in the independent counsel issue, it amounts to ignoring issues concerning the well-being of ordinary Koreans. To reap substantial results from a leadership meeting like yesterday`s, the political parties should bear in mind that they have to reach conclusive agreement according to public opinion.