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[Editorial] The Collusion of Politics and Business Must End

[Editorial] The Collusion of Politics and Business Must End

Posted May. 21, 2004 22:31,   


The eight months of prosecution probes into the presidential electoral campaign slush funds has meaning in that they have penetrated what’s been regarded as off-limits, despite the fact that they did not touch the kernel of the issue. Although astronomical amounts of slush funds were spent in the past presidential elections, they have never been disclosed in their entirety or subject to probes. The prosecutors’ probes disclosed the Grand National Party’s collection of secret funds in a truck. They also went so far as to investigate President Roh Moo-hyun’s entourage. All these deserve high praise.

What is at issue is, however, that the investigations were started as a result of President Roh’s will and that the results of them are also constrained by this self-imposing limit. President Roh appears to have concluded that public probes into the slush fund would not work against him in the run-up to the National Assembly election because he believed that he spent about one-tenth the amount that the GNP spent on the presidential campaign. The investigations appear to have managed to maintain impartiality because the GNP, the then-giant majority party, pressed the government by brandishing the Law on Special Prosecutors.

The prosecution appears to have hit a political balance by not bringing charges against Lee Hoi-chang, the former GNP presidential candidate, because it could not impeach President Roh. Thus, the kernels are not charged while the peripherals were singled out and punished severely. It was also too lenient when it brought summary charges against the opportunist lawmakers who took bribes in return for changing party affiliations ahead of the presidential election.

It did not prosecute the chairmen of conglomerates who made illicit political contributions. The prosecution aimed to disclose the entire picture of the slush funds. It also took into consideration concerns that the charges against the business leader would further crimp entrepreneurial activities in the face of an ever tougher economic reality. However, the conglomerates must not treat the prosecution’s leniency like an acquittal.

The political and corporate world alike should learn a forward-looking lesson from the probes. This country will have no future unless the collusion of politics and business, which allows politicians to raise money by any means necessary and which allows corporations to make illegal contributions to politicians as if they are paying insurance premiums for perks and protection