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[Editorial] Eradicate the Possibility of Corruption

Posted August. 02, 2008 09:31,   


Kim Ok-hee, the cousin of First Lady Kim Yoon-ok, allegedly took three billion won (three million U.S. dollars) from a transportation business operator in exchange for helping him get a nomination from the ruling party as a proportional representative candidate in the April general elections. Fortunately, that person failed to get nominated and the presidential office asked prosecutors to investigate after obtaining information. This, however, can be considered the first corruption case involving a relative of President Lee Myung-bak. The presidential office must take strict precautions against the possibility of corruption by relatives and those close to President Lee.

If a serious corruption case involving President Lee’s relatives or close associates breaks out, it will deal another serious blow to the chief executive. In the run-up to the presidential election last year, speculation rose over his dealings and those by his relatives. He should not forget this bitter experience. If President Lee’s support falls further due to corruption by his close associates and relatives, he could lose his will to run the nation smoothly. Several past presidents and administrations lost their authority after their relatives and associates made mistakes. The impact of corruption committed by relatives or close associates of presidents is found in the examples of Chun Doo-hwan’s brother, Kim Young-sam’s son and the three sons of Kim Dae-jung. Most of all, President Lee should bear in mind that Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung became lame-duck leaders after their sons’ scandals were exposed.

Prosecutors should thoroughly investigate if Kim Ok-hee lobbied for lawmaker hopeful Kim Jong-won or anyone else. Considering that the ruling party suffered from intense factional conflict and bribery rumors before the general elections, it is hard to completely rule out that she lobbied for the would-be lawmaker. Given the amount of bribe and circumstances, it is hard not to consider the case as fraud.

The presidential office and audit and inspection agencies should continuously strive to remove the possibility of corruption by relatives or close associates of President Lee. This is an indispensable condition to becoming a successful president.