[FORUM]Look closely at those crawlersSome couples part when things are not going well, but more couples just endure and live. I recently read a French novel entitled “I Loved Her,” in which the author wrote, “I felt as if I had just lifted a big stone and had to put it down right away because the things swarming underneath it were too ugly.”
In the book, a woman who discovered the infidelity of her husband, Pierre, decided to divorce him and lifted the stone, but could not cast it away and put the stone down again. Because the hidden indecency of daily life outside the immaculate surface of a marriage was too ugly, she had no confidence in her ability to face it. That may be the same feeling of people who decide to get divorced several times a day but cannot follow through. If that is a convention, then it is a disgusting but comfortable one.
The encircling net of prosecutors that aims at the ruling party’s leader is closing in. I do not know what the intention of the prosecutors who cry “In accordance with the law” really is. I do not know if they are determined to bid farewell to their disgraceful nickname, the “handmaidens of power,” or if they made a simple gesture or they just colluded with the Blue House. I am watching with interest whether the stone the prosecutors have lifted up will be thrown away or just put down on its place so that all parties can go back to their comfortable conventions.
The shopping center sale fraud of Goodmorning City Corp. alone produced about 3,000 victims and 350 billion won ($300 million) in losses. It has also triggered a controversy around Chyung Dai-chul, the leader of the Millennium Democratic Party and around the funding of the last presidential election. The case meets all the criteria for scandals involving the abuse of power that leaves a foul aroma over our society. As more and more people seem to become enmeshed in charges of corruption, it is hard to predict how far the net will finally reach. The things that are swarming under this raised stone are very dirty, and the temptation to cover them up again will be great.
President Roh Moo-hyun, who so far has contested seven elections including the presidential campaign, once acknowledged, “Just thinking of money makes me fear being a politician.” Mr. Roh wrote a book, “Darling, Please Help Me,” that was published in 1994 when he was jobless after having lost an election for a seat in the National Assembly. He deplored that corruption was so rampant in politics that “even though an event is obvious in its illegality, to call it into question seems to be rather funny.”
So now, if he wants to preserve his pride in having achieved an election revolution by financing his presidential campaign through collections from citizens’ piggy banks, it is reasonable that he should make public the accounting of the Millennium Democrats’ general election funding. Then should come efforts to reform political fundraising laws.
The examples of other countries show that chronic corruption in politics cannot be weakened until there is a series of eye-catching scandals and then an aggressive (and revolutionary) investigation by law enforcement officials. In Italy, political funds reforms were preceded by a mani pulite (clean hands) movement among prosecutors in Milan. In France, a scandal involving the major political parties was pursued by uncowed judges; in Japan, there was the investigation by Tokyo prosecutors into the Sagawa Kyubin scandal.
It is the task of the times to turn the stinking Goodmorning City scandal to a good-luck opportunity for catching two birds, political reform and reform in the prosecution, with one net. The prosecution and politicians should break the existing “rules of cohabitation” and find a better path. When the Blue House keeps strictly neutral and the prosecution throws away the overturned stone with no reluctance, we will be on that path.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Bae Myung-bok