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[Editorial] Come Clean with Suspicions over Political Fundraising

[Editorial] Come Clean with Suspicions over Political Fundraising

Posted July. 15, 2003 21:52,   


President Roh‘s proposal that both ruling and opposite parties to come clean about fundraising and expenditures, along with public verification, provides a genuine opportunity to cure many of Korean politics’ chronic diseases. He is right in saying that politicians should seek a fresh start through political reform, while stressing that the national ought not be sacrificed in the reform process. Yet, he must dispel any doubts and suspicions over the timing of and motives behind his latest initiative before asking for bipartisan support.

At the core of the controversy lies the ruling party’s fundraising activities during the presidential election last year. Suspicions was triggered by none other than the ruling camp itself. Therefore, the ruling camp must lead the process with a sincere confession of misdeeds so that opposite parties will follow suit. For the ruling party to call on its political rivals to first reveal their sources of political funds, claiming “the opposition spent more money on its campaign,” without offering material evidence, is to invite a backlash.

Also, the MDP should bear in mind that the catalyst of the current controversy was the so-called “Goodmorning-gate” debacle. That lobbying scandal, in which a crooked real estate developer bilked thousands of small merchants and bribed politicians, should not be overshadowed by controversial fundraising or other political hassles. The ruling party seems absorbed in a muscle-flexing contest with the prosecution over the latter’s grilling of the head of Goodmorning City, after he conceded bribing high-ranking officials of the ruling MDP. This attitude lacks the proper show of regret or sincerity expected of a confessor.

In order to set an oversight rule on fundraising, create a responsible institution, and enact a special law exempting punishment for past criminal but “traditional” activities, it is imperative that the ruling party dispel suspicions and seek public consensus. To do so, the ruling party must give honest answers to the people‘s questions and pass legitimate tests. Attacking the opposition party helps not at all.

For its part, the opposition should refrain from taking the political offensive. Sound political development comes from setting superior examples.