[EDITORIALS]Ethics takes the back seatIt is more and more pathetic to watch the Millennium Democratic Party try to deal with the allegation that its chairman, Chyung Dai-chul, received bribes from Goodmorning City Corp., a real estate developer. Mr. Chyung’s comments continue to change, and the reaction from the party ― both the old and new factions ― and the Blue House continues to waver. The governing camp has lost its composure, unable to get a grip on how to approach the issue with some kind of principle.
Mr. Chyung, said Thursday that he had received “not one won more” than the 200 million won ($170,000) that went to President Roh Moo-hyun’s campaign last year. Then yesterday he changed his statement and said the figure was actually 420 million won. He went on to say that he spent about 600 million won in his campaign for chairman of the party last year but others had spent billions. He then said he received about 1 billion won from Goodmorning City and passed it on to the party’s secretary general, Lee Sang-soo.
If everything he said is true, there should be an investigation of the funds of all candidates for the party’s chairmanship and President Roh’s campaign funds as well. With remarks like these, Mr. Chyung says he is facing the problem squarely. What he ought to do instead of inflicting more ethical damage is to resign as party chairman and present himself to the prosecution. As long as he remains the head of the party, the prosecution will shake in its boots, and party members have already started to complain about the prosecution’s investigations. Their insensitivity to public opinion is mind-boggling.
Mr. Roh has apparently discouraged Mr. Chyung from resigning from his post. The new faction’s attempt to create a new party was supposed to be about cleaning up dirty politics; if they continue to protect a man who apparently received campaign contributions without issuing a receipt, they will be seen as just a vehicle for President Roh with no ethical backbone. The Chyung affair is an important gauge of the commitment to reform of the new faction and the Blue House.