[EDITORIALS]Clear Up Consortium Questions

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[EDITORIALS]Clear Up Consortium Questions

Suspicion concerning the selection of a developer for land development plan near Incheon International Airport will now have to be cleared by the prosecution. Yoon Heung-yeol, the largest stakeholder in Airport 72, the consortium at the heart of the controversy, on Tuesday accused Lee Sang-ho of libel, thereby starting a prosecution inquiry. In a news conference Monday, Mr. Lee, the former chief of the airport's development project team, questioned whether political meddling may have influenced Airport 72.

When the news about the dubious evaluation process broke, it seemed to be a case of personal rivalries among executives of the Incheon International Airport Corp. Quickly, though, the case revealed links that led the concerned consortium to the top political echelon.

The case is laden with questions of doubt. President Kang Dong-suk of the Incheon International Airport Corp. was pressed by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation over the delayed announcement of the contractors which were selected as preferred-bidders, and then he was again reprimanded with a warning letter from the ministry. Mr. Kang said that he requested the reevaluation of the decision to the evaluation committee in order to choose a developer that would enhance profitability for the corporation. This explanation fails to persuade us. Mr. Kang had demanded a change of criterion and reevaluation after the selection procedures were over. And his pledge "find out if I can use my authority as corporation president to select a second-ranking consortium," is suspicious enough.

We believe there must have been a feasible and objective reason for a group of experts to have selected a consortium that offered to pay 32.5 billion won ($25 million) for land use fees over the consortium that offered to pay 172.5 billion won, or five times more. Mr. Kang's actions, following the first round of evaluations, is wrong.

Then there is the phone call that Kook Joong-ho, an officer of the Office of Civil Affairs of the Blue House, made to Mr. Lee Sang-ho. Mr. Kook denies that the call was to entreat a favorable decision to Airport 72. Mr. Lee said that it was. If indeed a civil affairs officer of the Blue House did make a call, mentioning the name of a friend's company to the chief of the airport's development project team, that is abuse of authority.

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