[EDITORIALS]Don’t stop nowOne day before making public a decision on whether to extend the independent counsel’s probe on the cash-for-summit allegations, President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday reportedly made a remark that can be interpreted as a “no.” We, however, believe that Mr. Roh must allow the counsel to extend the investigation, taking into account the national interest and the law. A decision against an extension would spawn political strife.
The counsel’s request to the president for an extension is merely a procedure. It is absurd to ask the counsel to stop investigating a case that the entire nation is following. The Blue House and the Millennium Democratic Party object to the extension, fearing they will lose their supporters, particularly in the Jeolla region. They are also displeased about the inquiry into the 15 billion won ($12.5 million) allegedly given to Park Jie-won by Hyundai Merchant Marine.
The independent counsel was named because the prosecution’s political neutrality was questioned. Thus, rejecting the counsel’s request based on political interests, particularly in favor of the ruling party, contradicts the spirit of the law.
The suggestion to investigate the alleged 15 billion won bribe through a new independent counsel is unreasonable and shallow guile. It is unlikely the Millennium Democratic Party would agree to such a proposal. Handing over the case to the prosecution would put the prosecutors in a difficult position. The opposition party and the public are still skeptical about the prosecution’s independence, and they would not be convinced with the prosecution’s findings.
Also inappropriate was the remark by Song Doo-hwan, the independent counsel, that “We do not have a plan to investigate former president Kim Dae-jung, nor have we considered such a plan.” Investigating Mr. Kim, who stands at the top of the mounting allegations, would complete the independent counsel’s investigation. The independent counsel will determine how to handle its investigation into Mr. Kim. Mr. Roh must remember that if he ends the counsel’s investigation, he betrays the people.