&#91EDITORIALS&#93Stumbling on an inquiry

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[EDITORIALS]Stumbling on an inquiry

President-elect Roh Moo-hyun is wavering on the suspected illegal payment of $200 million to North Korea. In mid-December, he emphasized a thorough investigation: "Prosecutors should delve into cases with the firm resolve that they can be investigated by independent counsels." Yesterday, he changed his position: "The truth should be clarified. Considering diplomatic repercussion and national interest, however, the subject of an investigation, procedure and scope are better decided by the National Assembly."

His recent remark is a retreat from his clear position when he encouraged the prosecutors. People suspect that he is putting more weight on a political solution, although he confirmed his will to pursue the truth. In the course of a "National Assembly decision," there are bargaining processes between the ruling party and the opposition, that is, secret deals behind closed doors. The majority of the people do not agree with this process.

People are also embarrassed to hear that Mr. Roh's about-face resulted from consultations with President Kim Dae-jung's government. The whole procedure smacks of a political trick: Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. presented evidence to the Board of Audit and Inspection, and the board made an an-nouncement. President Kim remarked that the affair does not fit the criteria of a judicial matter, which was followed by Mr. Roh's chief-of-staff-designate Moon Hee-sang's claim that the issue should be resolved by political parties.

It can be interpreted as a warning that "since the issue can badly affect inter-Korean relations, people should consider it a part of the president's unique power to rule the country and they dare not ask for details." But insisting on political considerations while suspicions of under-the-table deals, bribery, lies and waste of tax money overflow, amounts to ignoring the people.

The first priority lies in the pursuit of the truth. Political consideration will follow if the national consensus favors it after the truth is disclosed.
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