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[Editorial] Is Former President Roh Homesick?

Posted June. 17, 2008 03:54,   


It is surprising to hear that former President Roh Moo-hyun took a large chunk of documents from the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae after his term ended. Among 2.14 million pieces of leaked data are personnel documents on more than 50,000 government employees, including the prime minister and other ministers, and 350,000 private individuals such as company executives, academics and journalists. The items also include about 57,000 official documents with electric signs; some 25,000 documents produced by ministries under presidential directives; and more than 10,000 recordings of state and ministerial meetings. An outgoing president has leaked major information on state affairs.

Nobody knows whether Roh was planning to build a second presidential office in the village of Bongha, where he lives now. But why a retired president needs all that information is incomprehensible. The incumbent administration and Roh have apparently kept quiet apparently to prevent a worsening of the situation, but this is nothing to blink at.

What is clear is that the leaked information does not belong to a former president. The Act on the Management of Presidential Records, which took effect in April last year while Roh was president, stipulates that the government owns presidential records and that heavy punishment awaits the abolition, leakage or concealment of information in violation of this act. Surely, Roh is no exception to this rule.

The leakage of presidential records is hampering the administration of state affairs by the incumbent administration. Because the former president has refused to hand over personnel information, Cheong Wa Dae is depending on the documents of the National Intelligence Service to prepare for the scheduled reshuffle. If the president makes personnel changes without sufficient information, there is no guarantee that an administration filled with people with personal connections to the president will not rise again.

Roh should immediately return all presidential records in addition to his personal documents. E-Jiwon, the internal computing system of Cheong Wa Dae, is set up in his private home as well. This system contains state secrets that could be leaked by a hacker. He must shut down the system at his home immediately as well. If Roh does not cooperate, a criminal investigation is inevitable. But before this happens, he needs to explain exactly what went on.