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[EDITORIALS]Secrecy Out of Place in a Campaign

May 16,2001
The opposition Grand National Party's newly-launched National Reform Committee held its first meeting of advisers Tuesday shrouded in secrecy. The opposition party moved the timing and the venue of the meeting after it was initially leaked to public. Even after the meeting, the party did not disclose the list of participants, mostly renowned academics and former high-ranking government officials. When persons rumored to be committee members were asked whether they attended the meeting, many replied that either they "did not participate" or "were not notified." The elusiveness is disappointing, and reflects the general standard of Korean political parties, intellectuals and leaders of society. It is a laudable that the opposition has founded the committee rather than huddle behind closed doors to prepare for the presidential election. Publicly promoting a candidate's human resources pool and the orientation of the think tank could work as constructive information for voters. In the past, members of similar committees have later held public office.

However, the opposition's attempt to keep the committee's activities and members secret does not jibe with expectations of a public organization, which should be open to public evaluation. Of course, we can understand the opposition's concern for its estimated 200 advisory committee members. Some may find it awkward because of their present positions to reveal their political leanings. They may well face disadvantages in promotions or face probes of their financial accounts. Former administrations did so, perhaps justifying the committee's caution.

But still, the advisory committee members should have been more open and straightforward in helping the opposition, even if just to overcome the disappointing political culture where one would be disadvantaged for stating his or her political orientation. It is impossible to expect that one can render help "quietly, behind the curtain," to a committee which the ruling party is criticizing as opposition leader Lee Hoi-chang's campaign organization. Rather than giving some support to the opposition lest they win the next presidency while at the same time keeping their feet out of water for fear of retribution, it would be more fair and open to not commit at all.



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