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[Editorial] Lee Gov`t Has More Than One Rotten Apple

Posted March. 23, 2009 03:20,   


Choo Boo-kil, former public relations secretary for President Lee Myung-bak, has been indicted on charges of accepting more than 100 million won (70,796 U.S. dollars) from Taekwang Industry CEO Park Yeon-cha in September last year, about three months after Choo resigned. Prosecutors suspect Park asked Choo to help halt a tax audit into Taekwang, but many people wonder if Choo is the only one among President Lee’s aides to have taken bribes considering the widespread perception that pro-Lee people have taken key posts in the government and public organizations.

On Christmas Eve last year, former National Tax Service chief Han Sang-ryule played golf in Gyeongju with influential people from Pohang, the president’s hometown, and had dinner with several of them in Daegu. People from Daegu and Pohang are rumored to have taken up key government posts. More than a few rumors are going around about the Lee administration’s power elite, eliciting criticism from ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Chung Doo-un as “privatizing” power.

Doling out key public posts to cronies will inevitably lead to corruption. The people in question vehemently deny the rumors about them. When the sun sets on an administration, however, their true characters are unveiled. This has been exemplified by the corruption scandals that surfaced after the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations left office.

Key figures of the Roh administration, who used to talk as if they monopolized ethics, are being investigated. Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party Lee Kwang-jae and Suh Gab-won and the party’s supreme council member Ahn Hee-jung are alleged to have taken large bribes. The corruption scandal of Taekwang CEO Park and Roh Gun-pyeong, President Roh’s older brother, keeps growing. Roh Gun-pyeong is suspected of receiving nearly three billion won (2.9 million dollars) from a lobbyist while the National Agricultural Cooperatives Federation was trying to take over Sejong Securities. The suspicion surrounding him does not end there, as he is believed to have brokered illegal campaign funds of 500 million won (500,000 dollars) in last year’s parliamentary elections.

One rotten apple spoils the barrel. If the incumbent administration fails to clean up its surroundings, it could end up following its predecessors` footsteps. If it fails to stop its inner circle from peddling influence, it cannot prevent corruption and will eventually lose the people’s confidence.