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Roh’s Election Fund Remarks Create Controversy

Posted August. 25, 2005 02:59,   


President Roh Moo-hyun said on August 24 that he hoped that a probe to investigate election fundraising allegations would not be expanded to the extent of involving candidates of the 1997 presidential election.

“It would be inappropriate to use an investigation method now digging up matters regarding the political fundraising of former president Kim Dae-jung and Lee Hoi-chang, presidential candidates in the 1997 election,” said Roh at a luncheon with Cheong Wa Dae reporters. He also added that he hoped that the matter would be considered as a part of settling the past.

Roh’s remark is a contradiction to civic groups that have been strongly asking for a full scale investigation and proper punishment on any illegal activities regarding the suspicion of Samsung’s providing political funds to candidates from both the ruling and opposition parties, and the wiretapping tapes of the Mirim team of the National Security Planning Agency, the predecessor to the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

At the same time, the remark can also be interpreted to mean that the president intends to suggest guidelines for the prosecution’s investigation on election fundraising allegations involving Samsung, creating the dispute that the president might have attempted to intervene in the investigation process.

“Almost all of the systematic elements of the election fund are already revealed. When things are properly worked out to a necessary degree, it should end there instead of repeating itself and dragging itself out over and over again. In terms of rooting out corruption and irregularities and illegal political fundraising, the election fund investigation in 2002 seemed enough,” said the president.

Hearing this, opposition parties, including the Grand National Party, criticized Roh’s remarks, referring to it as an inappropriate remark that suggested guidelines for the prosecution’s investigation. But the president’s supporters disagreed. “The president’s remark is not for the prosecution, but for society and the public,” explained Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com