[EDITORIALS]A Janus face Blue HouseThe application for a detention warrant for Han Kwang-ok, who served as chief of staff to President Kim Dae-jung and is now a member of the Millennium Democratic Party’s Supreme Council, is appalling. Mr. Han is suspected of taking a bribe when he was the president’s top aide. To have one of the former president’s most trusted advisers accused of accepting bribes in a Blue House run by a man who talked endlessly about reform and anti-corruption shows the hypocrisy and duplicity of the former administration.
It seems that every time there is a bribery case it is traced to a key former government official. Mr. Han is suspected of taking more than 100 million won ($83,000) from Nara Merchant Bank in 2000 to keep the ailing bank from closing and to introduce Nara executives to the president’s top aide for economic affairs. An MDP lawmaker, Park Joo-sun, is awaiting summons by prosecutors for questioning on his involvement in the Nara case, and another MDP lawmaker, Choi Jae-seung, is about to be called for allegedly taking bribes to influence a coal supply contract with the state power utility monopoly.
Mr. Kim’s administration was a government which, under the slogan “The People’s Government,” shook up public service under the name of reform, vowing to clean up the mess that the previous government made. And this bribery case comes with the signature excuse that no favor was given in return. That is only an attempt to deceive the public and will only stir its anger. Coming from senior public officials, it is despicable.
Mr. Han’s conduct is believed to have resulted in 2 trillion won in losses in public funds pumped into the financial community to resuscitate it. It is scary to think about what losses might still be undisclosed. But the Roh administration’s prosecutors must back up the administration’s pledge for reform by sifting carefully through the former government’s wrongdoings. The prosecution could make no greater mistake than being lenient with people just because they share a common political heritage in the MDP. This administration should learn from the plight of its predecessors.