[EDITORIALS]President must act now

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[EDITORIALS]President must act now

We have watched pressure mount on the Kim Dae-jung administration as it enters its final year. The deeper we look into the affairs of Chin Seung-hyun, a businessman indicted on bribery charges, the more outrage emerges. Rumors and allegations abound - allegations of a bribe to former deputy justice minister Shin Kwang-ok, a rumor about Mr. Chin's list of contacts and the possibility of a key official's name being on it, another rumor of improper campaign contributions in exchange for the promise of favors during the general elections last year, and allegations and accusations involving President Kim's two sons. The most recent jolt is the allegation that a former National Intelligence Agency official, Kim Eun-seong, tried to block the prosecutors' investigation.

We have seen before, in Kim Young-sam's administration, a tide of scandals headed for the center of power. The tide makes the realization of President Kim Dae-jung's vow to concentrate on the business of the country that much more difficult to achieve. He resigned from the presidency of the Millennium Democratic Party to concentrate on steering the economy to recovery, making sure the World Cup will be successful, and overseeing next year's elections. But with the scandals and the power brokers' involvement in them, the government has all but lost the people's trust and the administration has lost direction. But before and since his return from his European trip, Mr. Kim has remained silent on these issues.

The president must renew his determination to correct the wrongs in government and make this determination clear through specific plans. The change must begin with investigations and punishment, without exception, of the guilty.

The changes must begin with the relationships between the prosecution and the intelligence agency and the ties between the intelligence apparatus and the police. A safe World Cup and fair elections will be impossible if the conflict and power struggle between the agencies persist. President Kim must understand that the people have decided that a shakeup among the security and law enforcement authorities is needed. The prosecution needs a face-lift for its failure to get to the root of the scandals and corruption over the past year. A cleanup at the intelligence agency is also overdue. Its abuse of power began in previous administrations, as illustrated by the Susie Kim murder case in the 1980s and the mysterious death of Professor Tsche Chong-kil in the 1970s.

Renewing the administration's integrity must be followed by a new cabinet. The current cabinet headed by Prime Minister Lee Han-dong is caught in corruption and abuse of power. The reshuffle must be major. The cabinet changes in the past year have been patch-ups; the best people have not been appointed.
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