&#91EDITORIALS&#93Ball in your court, Mr. Roh

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Ball in your court, Mr. Roh

In his first meeting with Park Hee-tae, acting chairman of the opposition Grand National Party, President Roh Moo-hyun asked the party to revise a bill to name an independent counsel to investigate the alleged cash-for-summit scandal. Mr. Roh wants deals with North Korea excluded from any investigation and prosecution. Mr. Park rejected the request, citing that the investigation already is limited because an independent counsel cannot investigate North Korea. It’s now time for Mr. Roh to make a decision.
It is understandable that the president asked the opposition party to revise the bill before Saturday, the deadline for his veto. Amid a looming nuclear crisis in North Korea, the president is probably concerned about the North protesting investigations into the backdoor dealings between the two Koreas. Revealing the truth about the cash transfer to the North, however, won’t hinder our support of the North. A probe is intended to build a constructive framework for inter-Korean relations, as Mr. Roh has previously cited.
Mr. Roh’s request to not investigate and prosecute deals with North Korea is unconvincing. The definition of deals with the North is very vague to begin with. If the independent counsel investigates activities only done in the South, such as fund-raising and money-wiring, we will never know why such deals were necessary and why our government decided so. We will also likely never know the exact sum delivered to the North and if the deal was a legitimate one, as the North and Hyundai Group are insisting. Furthermore, it is impossible to investigate what happened in the North and if there is remaining cash. A restricted investigation will definitely make it impossible to lay bare the truth about the scandal, if any exists.
The ruling party argues that the counsel may publicize secrets that could harm the national interest, but they are ignoring the bill’s provisions for handling confidential information. The more the ruling party persists, the more skepticism grows that they are trying to protect former President Kim Dae-jung. If the truth comes out, we can more effectively ― and legally ― aid the North.
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