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[Editorial] Now the President Should Tell Us

Posted January. 28, 2004 23:42,   


Lawmaker Lee Sang-su of the Uri Party, who had managed campaign funds of then-candidate Roh Moo-hyun in the last presidential election, told this newspaper that “he reported details of money raised at that time to Roh after the election.” The details include not only the names of businesses but also each amount of money given by those businesses. The total sum of money collected amounts to 18.8 billion won (about $1.6 million), with 9.9 billion won (about $8 million) of it provided by top ten conglomerates such as SK, Samsung, Hyundai, Hanhwa, and Kumho.

If so, Roh should tell the truth now. It will be the right thing for Roh to tell the full story, even though it is hard to regard all the money as illegal and considering the fact that many suspicions about the funds of Roh’s campaign, and even the question of fairness in its investigation, are being raised. Even more, the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) has raised a new charge that the campaign received around 10 billion won (about $8.3 million) in illicit funds.

Despite Mr. Roh’s declaration that “he would retire from politics if his campaign’s illicit fund exceeded one tenth of the Grand National Party (GNP)’s,” he never clarified any facts related to its size. What he only said was that “I will tell you everything after the investigation is completed because early revelations may influence the investigation itself.” However, as the presidency is a “living power,” many people think that however enthusiastic the prosecution is for the investigation, it cannot be compared with the opposition party. The opposition party even talks about a hearing on this.

It will be also hard to delay clarifying his position in a political and moral sense because the president cannot be freed from his responsibilities when urgent state affairs such as the economy and the people’s livelihoods continue to be delayed by this matter. Even if Roh managed to disclose the GNP’s illicit funds by using a freight car that carried an incredible amount of money and also succeeded in creating an atmosphere of political reform through suggesting a confidential vote, the people’s anxiety has risen and the political strife of attrition has continued so far because of this.

In every instance, Roh attacked the opposition party by connecting the amount of illegal funds with morality. His words such as “while we took a Tico (a light car), the GNP took a limo” are good examples. They imply that his party is more virtuous than the GNP because it received less money than the GNP. But such a comparison is not valid as well as not proper for the president to talk about.

The president now should tell us. He must make clear his position on how much he knew in advance about the fund raising done by his aides, how much money one of his aides, Ahn Hee-jung, collected which is not included in the 18.8 billion won mentioned above, and what he is going to do if the amount of money exceeds one tenth of the GNP’s illicit money.

We are at a point just before the general election. This illegal fund issue should be resolved before the election so that we could have a fair election where only policies and people matter. It is Roh who should begin first.