Let's Get at the TruthThe attacks and counterattacks going on these days concerning the source of various large amounts of political party funds and whether they were used legitimately have turned the Korean political arena into a sorry sight. Prosecutors investigating the source of money allegedly used in lobbying for Korea''s purchase of French high-speed railway technology and hardware reportedly turned up evidence to support suspicions that money from a secret fund belonging to the National Intelligence Service somehow made its way into the bank account of an associate of the secretary general of the New Korea Party, which was the ruling party during Kim Young-sam''s administration. The same prosecutors who in the past have refused to look into political incidents merely on the basis of rumor have rolled up their sleeves and gone to work, saying they intend to get to the bottom of this one. Kim Young-sam''s supporters spoke in intimidating tones of treating the matter with "serious resolve" if that''s the way President Kim Dae-jung''s side is going to act.
Koreans find themselves wondering, "What is this secret fund they''re talking about? And whose hands, if anyone''s, are clean in this affair?" From the sound of the remarks being slung back and forth in the fracas, it would appear that the nation''s core political figures on all sides have sullied their hands with dirty money at some point. Perhaps that''s why they all seem to be saying to one another, "You take me down and I''ll take you down with me."
Before the political fighting goes any further, it has to be determined whether or not this money was indeed diverted from the intelligence agency''s funds. If it is true that a portion of the national budget wound up in the election campaign budget of a political party, that is misappropriation and constitutes a breach of the election laws. A government that retains power through the misuse of money appropriated from the national treasury for other purposes cannot claim to be legitimate.
And what about Kim Young-sam''s side of the story? In an interview with the Joongang Ilbo last year. he hinted at the possibility that President Kim Dae-jung had a secret fund, saying. "I hear reports. I know what''s going on." We don''t know whether there''s any connection between that statement and the recent assertion that he will act with "serious resolve" in the current situation, but if he really does know of some illegal funds the president is hiding, he should say so in a straightforward fashion instead of hinting at using that knowledge against the president. Such behavior is unbecoming of a gentleman and former head of state.
What is the meaning of all the talk of openness and compromise and conducting politics in the broadest national interest instead of just in the interest of the one? party when the speakers are actually making use of each other''s weak points to distract the public? attention away from their own misbehavior? Who is the pot and who is the kettle? It''s time to stop all this mutual finger-pointing.
The suspicion that the money in question came from National Intelligence Service funds has either to be put to rest or confirmed through a thorough investigation, and the detailed facts must be laid before the public. If former President Kim Young-sam has something to reveal in this connection. he should come right out with it instead of resorting to innuendo. The time when this sort of improbity in politics and government could be tolerated has long since passed.
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