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[Editorial] Ruling Party Must Rectify Bribery Scandal

Posted October. 11, 2008 00:19,   


The ruling Grand National Party is reeling from a bribery scandal surrounding Seoul City Council Chairman Kim Gui-hwan, who is under arrest for the charge of giving 39 million won (39,000 U.S. dollars) in bribes to 30 council members ahead of their July 2 chairman election. Certain Grand National Party lawmakers are known to have taken millions of won from Kim in the form of legal donations. Rumors say one senior party member even received hundreds of millions of won. A saying goes that no ruling party lawmaker can claim innocence if Kim speaks up.

No one can find fault with lawmakers who receive legal donations with no strings attached. It is also wrong to slander people or a party with groundless rumors. Nonetheless, the bribery scandal raises many doubts. Why did Kim give the money to three council members specifically at the offices of two ruling party lawmakers? This could show a strong collusion between Kim and the lawmakers. Some rumors say the party asked the council to go ahead with the election even after news of Kim’s scandal broke out in the primaries.

The Grand National Party is scrambling to conduct damage control from the scandal. Party leader Park Hee-tae quickly apologized to the public. The ruling party will also discuss today suspending Kim, though he has not been indicted. What’s more important, however, is that the party must get to the bottom of the case first or suffer more trouble.

Many people blame the ruling party’s dominance over provincial councils as the main cause of the incident. As the party claims an absolute majority regardless of region, the blind eye that many turn to scandals further aggravates the problem. Seeking to rid itself of its reputation as the most bribery-prone party, the party has put a great deal of effort into cleansing itself, such as through headquartering itself in a tent or donating its training center to the nation. This latest scandal, however, hardly gives the party the right to preach on rule of law to the people.

The ruling Grand National Party seems always involved whenever a political corruption scandal breaks out, which shows a serious flaw in the party’s fundamentals. Therefore, the party must get to the truth behind the latest scandal through an intensive internal investigation that outrivals that of the prosecution, and use this opportunity to change its fundamentals with action, not words.