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[Editorial] Ruling Party Should Give Full and Reliable Account of Campaign Funds

[Editorial] Ruling Party Should Give Full and Reliable Account of Campaign Funds

Posted July. 23, 2003 21:49,   


Although the ruling party’s move to disclose its campaign funds has a significant meaning in Korea’s history, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party will not be able to defuse mounting public suspicions over its illegal campaign fund-raisings. It is difficult to recognize that the ruling camp made a real confession of its election funds, even taking into account the fact that it was an unprecedented move so that there was nothing to follow suits. The MDP seemed to disclose the details of its campaign funds for the sake of formality, adding fuel to public suspicions over the matter.

The most interesting part is the details of donations made by 39 donors, amounting to 5.6 billion won. The ruling party said among the sum, the money it received from the bankrupt Good Morning City was also included, although it didn’t disclose specific names and sums, which are not allowed by the current election law. However, suspicions still linger that some corporations may have donated more money than legally permitted.

In addition, it is difficult to make a judgment that those donations were made within legal boundaries because the party failed to submit verifiable documents, including bank receipts. The ruling party compiled those disclosed documents in a hasty manner hastily, leaving a room for suspicions over the veracity of those documents. The MDP separately recorded names of corporations and individuals when their donations exceeded the legally permitted amount, which deserves a review over the legality of the ways the MDP used in recording donations. MDP secretary general Lee Sang-soo who made public the details at a press conference said, “Those documents are not enough,” recognizing those problematic aspects of the disclosure.

The MDP should disclose additional details of election funds to clear up public suspicions that were not removed by the Wednesday’s move as soon as possible. On top of that, a reliable government agency should be invited to launch an investigation into the alleged illegal fund-raising committed by the ruling camp. Although the president mentioned the appointment of a special counsel to carry out a probe, it is desirable for the prosecution to carry out an investigation to unveil all the truths behind political funds because the formation of a special counsel team takes some time. However, the issues over an election fund probe and the Good Morning City investigation should be dealt with separately.

The opposition Grand National Party’s refusal to disclose the details of its own campaign funds is inconsistent with its accusation against the MDP for disclosing meaningless and false details of campaign funds. The public cannot be sympathy with the GNP’s claim that it had nothing to confess of its election funds. Disclosing the details of the last presidential election funds should be regarded as a first step to secure political transparency. Therefore, the issue should be dealt with in a broader perspective involving the political circle and the public as a whole. It might be wrong to address the issue only with a political approach. In the same vein, it is time for the opposition GNP to take a positive action on campaign funds to meet the public expectation.