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[Editorial] Mr. President, Authorize More Time for Independent Counsel`s Investigation

[Editorial] Mr. President, Authorize More Time for Independent Counsel`s Investigation

Posted June. 22, 2003 22:14,   


President Roh hinted yesterday that he might say no to the request of Independent Counsel Song Doo-hwan for extension of his term, who has been investigating Kim Dae-jung`s secret deal with Kim Jong-il. On Saturday, Independent Counsel Song and Justice Minister Kang Kum-sil jointly proposed for an allowance of the extension. Listening to the latest response from President Roh, we are concerned that political pressure might lead him to make a wrong decision. What is he afraid of? A worsened relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il? Or, political pressure from Millennium Democrats loyal to Kim Dae-jung?

Neither is a good excuse. The investigation targets the secret wiring of the astronomical amount of money to Kim Jong-il. In other words, Independent Counsel Song is looking into the scandal for its corruptive nature, and an investigation of a corruption scandal is wholly an internal, domestic matter, leaving no room for Pyongyang`s interference and intervention. Even if we gave up on the investigation now, we don`t believe that the North-South relationship would get better. From the very beginning, Millennium Democrats opposed the appointment of the Independent Counsel. President Roh courageously made the correct decision and said yes. If President Roh reversed himself now and forced the investigation to be finished without coming to a conclusion, he would end up watching his leadership severely damaged.

The pressure and soured relationship are not things President Roh should worry about. What he really has to fear is South Koreans` mistrust and loss of confidence in his administration. The Independent Counsel is looking in a politically very sensitive matter. To accomplish something through all this, what President Roh really needs most is the whole-hearted trust and support from its citizens. Only trust can legitimize whatever results come out of the investigation, and silence all the political rambling and pressure. Actually, that is why we appointed an independent counsel. If President Roh forced the Counsel out, giving in to pressure from Millennium Democrats, he is to face his citizens` lack of confidence in him.

President Roh`s rejection of the request will also embarrass Independent Counsel Song and the Prosecution that first backed off even before taking any action on the scandal. Giving favor to Kim Dae-jung and his henchmen, President Roh will bleed heavily for another reason. He has repeatedly stressed he would reinforce the law fairly and justly. But no South Korean would buy his argument in the future. Likewise, no citizen would support and follow his leadership, and the whole nation will get bogged down into a political turmoil whenever a politically sensitive matter has to be investigated.

We really want to believe that Roh`s statement made yesterday was just meant to show how much agony he was undergoing. We wish he would come up with a wise and reasonable decision today.