[EDITORIALS]Don’t gloss over rumorsAt a press briefing called to explain the background on the establishment of a special investigation team attached to the presidential office, Moon Jae-in, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, said, “There is an intelligence report on misdeeds” involving a close aide of the president and, “we are trying to confirm related facts.” In less than a month since the inauguration of the new government, it is shocking to learn that a presidential aide is suspected of irregularities.
In the meantime, there were rumors that some new power elites “bought a house,” or “bought a new car.” Even inside the Blue House, voices of criticism and warning were heard over the high-handedness of some close aides of the president, such as “The level of misdeeds of the aides are the above danger point,” or “If you don’t go through a close aide, nothing is possible.” Under such a backdrop, Mr. Moon’s words provided a clue to such rumors.
As his words brought ripple effects, however, Mr. Moon said, “The confirmation of the rumors shows no misdeeds so far. The rumors seem to be intended to damage the reform drive of the participating government.” Then, what did Mr. Moon mean to say in the beginning? Why did he talk of misdeeds of aides? And why does he reverse his earlier remark? If there is irregularity involving a presidential aide, shouldn’t he report it to the president first? After mentioning it publicly, he now talks of “an intention to damage reform.” Who can believe his explanation?
Former President Kim Dae-jung tried to gloss over suspicions of his sons’ wrongdoings with similar explanations in his early days in office. But he had to ultimately see his two sons go to jail during his term in office. The new government should not think lightly of the precedence. Suspicions of wrongdoings by a close aide to the president at this early stage, coupled with rumors of a power struggle among presidential aides, must be embarrassing for Mr. Roh to hear. Whether the suspicion is nothing but a rumor or is based on truth, it should be investigated. If small wrongdoings are glossed over, they will grow into bigger scandals that will ultimately burden an administration. This is a lesson we have all learned from history.