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Probes into Slush Funds Put Government and MDP on Collision Course

Probes into Slush Funds Put Government and MDP on Collision Course

Posted January. 30, 2004 22:58,   


Han Hwa-kap, the former chairman of the opposition Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), on January 30 defined prosecution probes into his electoral campaign funds for the 2002 primaries and for the MDP chairman election last year as attempts at the life of a political rival and declared an all-out fight.

Meanwhile, the president’s office and the pro-government Uri Party plan to file a lawsuit against Rep. Kim Kyung-jae of the MDP for his allegations of the president’s raising of five billion won in slush funds, putting the MDP and the government on a collision course.

At a standing central committee meeting, the MDP called for public probes into President Roh’s funds for his party’s primaries and Uri Party leader Chung Dong-young’s funds for his chairmanship election for maintaining a balance. They will file a complaint with the prosecution for Roh’s and Chung’s violations of political fund regulations.

“A few days ago, a member of the cabinet visited me to deliver what he said is the president’s proposal: he asked me to join the Uri Party,” said Han in a press conference at the MDP headquarters. “Separately, another person from the government side made the same proposal.” He added, “When I rejected the offer, the probes started.”

Han, through his lawyers, filed a petition to the court to postpone his arraignment, originally scheduled for January 30, until January 31 and staged a sit-in at the MDP headquarters.

Rep. Kim stepped up his offensive against the government in an interview with Pyonghwa Broadcasting Corp., in which he said, ”Some allegations say that there are several trillion won in funds in a trust fund I want to identify by an initial K. Some graduates of a high school identified by an initial B have recently pulled out one trillion won and circulated it to raise about 20 billion within a week for slush funds for the April National Assembly elections.”

MDP chairman Chough Soon-hyung and floor leader Yoo Yong-tae visited Prime Minister Goh Kun and Justice Minister Kang Geum-sil respectively, and Rep. Kim Kyung-jae visited Government Administration and Home Affairs Minister Huh Sung-kwan, protesting oppression against the opposition party and Uri’s recruitment of elected local government officials. The MDP will form an emergency committee to continue the struggle.

In a related development, Rep. Jong Bum-goo, who resigned from the MDP in November of last year, told a press conference that he would return to the party, saying, “I feel angry about and responsible for Han’s sufferings as a result of the current regime’s attempt at the life of the MDP.”

“We’ve decided to bring the truth to light as soon as possible with the lawsuit,” said presidential spokesman Yoon Tai-young. “Rep. Kim should be held accountable in light of civil and criminal laws for his outlandish allegations.” The company named in Kim’s allegations which wanted to be identified as D, said, “We have never contributed to illicit political funds.” It added, “We have filed a prosecution complaint against Rep. Kim, and will separately seek damages from him in a lawsuit we filed with the Seoul district court.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Hong Sa-duck, the floor leader of the Grand National Party (GNP), in a meeting with GNP leaders said, “We will hold parliamentary hearings as the MDP has proposed.”

Sung-Won Park Jeong-Hun Kim swpark@donga.com jnghn@donga.com