[EDITORIALS]President Kim's silence

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[EDITORIALS]President Kim's silence

Why does President Kim Dae-jung keep silent? As a daily series of corruption scandals involving his three sons makes headlines and his Blue House staff prove to have deviated from their duties, the president's mouth is shut. Key figures in his regime have become objects of public derision, yet President Kim's reaction is not known. At first, the public tried to attribute his silence to agony and sadness over his children. As his reticence continues public sympathy is turning to rage, lament and worry. Fundamental questions are raised over whether President Kim is blind to public resentment, whether he is capable of managing the crisis during the rest of his tenure, and whether he is healthy enough to carry out his job.

People are furious over the dereliction of the Blue House aides. The senior secretaries for anti-corruption inspections, civil and political affairs and foreign media are suspected of waging a concerted effort to protect Kim Hong-gul, the president's third son. Some of them are even said to have asked Choi Gyu-seon to leave the country in an attempt to avoid prosecutors' investigations of irregularities involving him and the younger Mr. Kim. Eyebrows were also raised at the suspicion that another Blue House official sold information about the president's schedule to Mr. Choi. We are shocked by such a low sense of duty displayed by key aides to President Kim. Such disorderly acts show an unprecedented arteriosclerosis of power.

When similar scandals broke out while Mr. Kim was an opposition leader, he was uncompromising. Scandals involving former Presi-dent Kim Young-sam's son and former President Chun Doo-hwan's foundation drew his severe censure. But no figure with Mr. Chun's foundation peddled as much influence as Lee Soo-dong of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation. When Kim Young-sam's son was involved in irregularities, there were no suspicions that the Blue House made an organized attempt to protect him. President Kim's silence leaves the public to believe that he is strict about others' faults and generous about his own.

People want to hear the president's candid views on scandals and cronyism in his regime, influence peddling by power brokers, key figures' links with crime organizations and their suspected collusion with start-up companies. President Kim must direct his third son to return from the United States for investigations. People want to know whether the president is determined to forget himself as a father. The Blue House and the governing Millennium Democratic Party should not expect that mudslinging with the opposition Grand National Party can distract attention away from his sons' doings. Mr. Kim should clear all suspicions before his term expires. Now is the time for him to break out of his silence.
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