[EDITORIALS]The questions not answeredWhat the public wanted from President Roh Moo-hyun’s speedily arranged press conference was a lucid explanation of the questions surrounding his brother Gun-pyeong’s property holdings and the bottled water company. It is highly undesirable, either for the nation or the president, that his stewardship be impaired by these problems or by exhaustive political sparring. But much to our regret, President Roh’s explanation failed to meet our aspiration.
Parts of his elucidation of the bottled water company were understandable ― how, as a debtor, he asked a finance company to extend a loan and how he compensated his brother’s investment loss in the company by forgiving the money he gave to his brother for the purchase of land in Jinyeong. His explanation of how he came to acquire the management right to the bottled-water company made sense.
Yet a lot of questions remained unanswered. First is the source of funds poured into the water company. The prosecutors have classified 390 million won ($325,000) that Ahn Hee-jung received from Nara Merchant Bank and a certain investment financing company as political funds. President Roh did not mention this topic at all. Against the backdrop of criticism that the prosecution induced the court to reject an arrest warrant for Mr. Ahn, the president should have addressed this issue.
“No illegal acts were committed,” the president said. But going by his explanation about the Jinyeong plot and the commercial building in Yeolaeri, he will find it hard to avoid the allegation that he violated the real-name property ownership law. Also, he has not sufficiently explained why Lee Ki-myeong, who headed his support association, came to repay the water company’s debt.
Reporters helped obscure matters with questions that strayed from germane issues. Had Mr. Roh set his mind to clarifying the issues, the Blue House should have paid more attention to the format of the news conference. The president must rise above this unproductive debate and focus his attention on government. He should lay bare the truth behind the speculations and take appropriate steps.