[EDITORIALS]Minister Has More Explaining to Do

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[EDITORIALS]Minister Has More Explaining to Do

"I vowed to lead the National Tax Service with the spirit in which I set fire to the house of the corrupt former Vice President Lee Gi-bung during the April 19 uprising in 1960, which toppled the first republic."

"I could quadruple my savings from 150 million won ($115,000) to 600 million won in six years by putting it on deposit." "No, it was not a bank deposit, but a high yield financial commodity in which I deposited my money."

The above are the comments of Minister of Construction and Transportation Ahn Jung-nam, who is under suspicion because of his siblings' allegedly corrupt conduct. As the Commissioner of the National Tax Service, Mr. Ahn was in charge of the recent media tax probe. Now, Mr. Ahn's morality and attitude as a public servant raise many questions and doubts.

Mr. Ahn was striving to show he was pursuing justice during the media tax audits. However, Mr. Ahn changed his line while giving an account on the purchase of land in the prospering Gangnam district of Seoul. Initially, Mr. Ahn said he bought the land with money he had deposited in a bank account, but later, after critics pointed out the impossibility of quadrupling principal in six years through this method, he said he put his money in a high-interest financial commodity.

Public servants have the right to invest in real estate and financial assets. However, it was puzzling to witness Mr. Ahn, who acted as if he were a cleanhanded tax official all his life, suddenly transformed into a "versatile investment strategist."

Suspicions on the incomprehensible way he increased his fortune while maintaining the image of a virtuous public servant disqualify Mr. Ahn from holding a high government position.

The duality of Mr. Ahn's character can be found elsewhere. He investigated the owners of newspaper companies, looking in every nook and cranny, and justified his conduct as an effort to achieve taxation justice. However, addressing alleged favors granted to corporations where his brothers were employed, Mr. Ahn said "I never knew anything or interfered." Mr. Ahn seems to be demanding that people look upon him kindly although he imposed strict rules on others.

Mr. Ahn was hospitalized yesterday for fatigue. This development, which contrasts with his usual overbearing attitude, arouses suspicion that he is engaged in a cover up.

He is obliged to clarify the problems created by "Minister Ahn and his family members." The current administration should take special measures to resolve the trouble he has brought upon them all.
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