[EDITORIALS]Scrutiny of what they sayThe business community, more vocal this year than usual about politics, is commenting on the campaign rhetoric of the presidential candidates. Their observations may create an opportunity to upgrade our politics and elections, which have been led by regional and family ties, opening an avenue for policy discussion and verification to guide politics and elections.
A proposal announced by the heads of the five major business associations in Korea calls for an evaluation based on market principles of every election promise by the candidates and notifying companies of the results. The results would be used as criteria for legal political donations. Since the evaluation would discourage patronage and cast light on anti-market leanings, we can expect it would prevent the presidential election from being tarnished by populism and regionalism. The business community already has announced that it will make only legal donations. The series of announcements is noteworthy because the business community expressed in the strongest words that it will stop illegal political giving.
But problems lie in the objectivity and effectiveness of the evaluations. Considering the evaluation results can cause the success or failure of the candidates, evaluation criteria and the process must be deliberate and objective. If it goes wrong, the business community might be accused of participating in political activity. If the evaluation criteria are not objective and universally understood, and the exercise turns out to be another selfish act only to protect the status quo, people will not support it. The business community has abundant financial resources, unlike civic groups. The business community should note that if it takes advantage of the evaluation, it runs the risk of deepening the corrupt relationship between politics and business.
Doing away with illegal political donations and an evaluation of policy slogans are possible when the political and business communities work together. We recommend that the political establishment accept the planned evaluation and work with the business community to reform the country's political culture.