&#91EDITORIALS&#93Roh must explain finances

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Roh must explain finances

The comment made by Chyung Dai-chul, chairman of the Millennium Democratic Party, that he collected 20 billion won ($17 million) for the presidential campaign last year, was a shock to voters. As his words differ from President Roh’s earlier remark that a large part of the campaign funds came from small private donations collected in piggy banks, the ethical standard of the present government is put in question.
Some say inter-party conflict is the reason for Mr. Chyung to make such comments, but we are not interested. What the voters want to know is the truth. Nobody in power should try to conceal the truth and influence the prosecutors’ investigation.
It is absurd that Mr. Chyung claimed that he would not comply with a summon from the prosecution. If he is so confident of vindicating himself, it may be natural that he appear before the prosecution to clarify the truth and clear suspicion. If the chairman of the governing party refuses to cooperate with the investigation, hiding behind legislative immunity, how can the prosecution keep public order and what will become of the rule of law in our society?
In January, the party reported to the National Election Commission that it collected a total of 28.3 billion won for the presidential campaign, including 7 billion to 8 billion won collected in piggy banks and 12.3 billion won in government subsidies. It is not clear whether the 20 billion won is an amount intentionally reduced, but it means at least 10 billion won less was reported to the commission. Mr. Chyung also raised a question on the amount left over in the fund. He said he received a report in January that there was 3 billion to 4 billion won left over, but heard recently that there was only 1 billion left. This is also a departure from President Roh’s statement that “there is nothing left” from the presidential campaign fund.
As suspicions loom large, it will be difficult to cover up the truth. Mr. Roh must make clear how much was collected, how much was spent, and what happened to the rest. If he fails to convince voters, the prosecution or an independent counsel should clarify the truth.
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