[EDITORIALS]Living the high lifeWhat is in the minds of secretaries at the Blue House and the Prime Minister’s Office? President Roh Moo-hyun’s personal secretary was treated by a criminal suspect at a drinking party, and the chief of staff to the prime minister was arrested on charges of receiving bribes from Yoon Chang-yeol, the developer of Goodmorning City. Those who are at the sides of the president and the prime minister are ethically challenged.
A regional newspaper broke the story about the Blue House aid a month ago and the Blue House staff looked into the incident, but did not report it to the president. ‘What’s a few drinks?’ they reasoned. But if drinking in a room salon with hostesses and spending the night in a hotel suite free were not big issues, what would be? And the room salon owner is suspected of embezzlement and involvement in prostitution. It is suspected that he might have asked that the investigation be ended quietly.
In May, the Blue House established an ethics code, banning its personnel from receiving money, gifts or services valued at more than 30,000 won ($25). When the secretary was relaxing with the ladies, the Blue House was on alert because of the railroad workers’ strike. The aide should have been ready to appear before Mr. Roh at any time, but he was out of Seoul for a night of luxury.
Because the incident was exposed belatedly, the Blue House began to mutter about conspiracies. No matter who raised the issue, it concerns those in power. All we want is a full accounting for the slack discipline in official circles and whether the official involved received a request in return for the hospitality he received. The Blue House tried to cover it up until it was exposed from outside, so we wonder whether it can cleanse itself without outside pressure.
The chief secretary to the prime minister admitted that he received bribes while serving as vice mayor of the Seoul city government. Prime Minister Goh Kun was then the Seoul mayor, making him responsible for his failure in personnel management, but he still pretends to be a man of morals. This administration has some cleaning up to do.