[EDITORIALS]Funds probe must not fail

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[EDITORIALS]Funds probe must not fail

Will the parliamentary inspection of the government's spending of public funds end as another miserable failure? The ruling and opposition parties have managed to agree on the probes after difficult negotiations, but the possibility grows that the effort may end in vain.

The National Assembly started its investigation early this month, but the road has been bumpy. Now, the dominant opposition Grand National Party talks openly about passing the investigation to the next administration: The government is procrastinating by failing to submit the necessary data and the ruling Millennium Democratic Party is not cooperating in the selection of witnesses. The ruling party, which had taken a passive stance, now insists on forcing the investigation. But it seems that political interests are involved.

The government, which is the subject of investigation, may welcome the opposition party's demands to scuttle the probe. The government is even making plans to postpone until next year investigations on spending by Hyun-dai Group-related companies, such as Hynix Semiconductor, which were under responsibility of the Korea Deposit Insurance Corp.

The radar at the National Assembly has never rung even though a total of 157 trillion won ($128 billion) of public funds have been spent -- 1.5 times larger than the government's annual budget. Other issues include the historical assessment of whether public spending contributed to Korea's overcoming the 1997 Asian financial crisis and whether the general public must shoulder the 69 trillion won in irretrievable funds. It is the National Assembly's responsibility to check for taxpayers whether the government has spent public funds wisely.

The parliamentary investigation into the spending of public funds must not be stopped.

If the government refuses to hand over related data, the ruling and opposition parties need to correct the ills even by changing related laws. Political insight is necessary when selecting witnesses. What is important is the commitment to conduct a parliamentary investigation for the public. The result may not be satisfactory. What is left can be retouched by the next administration. It is only the public that can give indulgence, not certain political parties.

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