[EDITORIALS]Punish according to crimePresident-elect Roh Moo-hyun spoke Thursday about his political reform plans and policies at a training session for the staff of the Millennium Democratic Party. He said, "If someone is caught lobbying for personal interests, he will be ruined." Mr. Roh gave eloquent explanations of his political vision for almost 50 minutes.
In his strongly worded warning lies his firm determination to root out the culture of lobbying and cronyism. He said: "If someone is caught lobbying for his own promotion, he will lose privileges. On other types of lobbying, special teams will be formed to study effective countermeasures." He stressed: "The culture of lobbying must have started with the thinking that there is nothing to lose even if one is caught. From now on the background of lobbying will be traced down to the bottom."
We welcome Mr. Roh's determination to eradicate lobbying, which implies under the table deals, since a great deal of social irregularities have their roots there. At the same time, we hope that Mr. Roh will carry out what he has pledged through the end of his term. Korea's former presidents vowed to wipe out corruption and refuse lobbying in their earlier days in office, but they all ended up with rampant corruption.
Mr. Roh should remember to honor the law and common sense when he punishes the violators. We can understand that such strong words like "if caught" or "nothing to lose" are an expression of his determination. But we worry about the warning: "If there is lobbying, I will make sure that all possible means are mobilized in the investigations, and make it impossible for the wrongdoer to survive, if he is not absolutely clean."
"All possible means," is interpreted as meaning that all types of government power, including tax probes, will be mobilized. It is dangerous to think that the government can punish people by investigating unrelated activities. It reminds us of the old days when authoritarian governments mobilized their power for political vendetta.
As a source of irregularities, lobbying should be eradicated. But this should be carried out smoothly. The process should executed in a rational way.