[EDITORIALS]A call to clean up politicsKwon Roh-kap, a former supreme council member of the Millennium Democratic Party, allegedly received a large sum of money from the Hyundai Group, and the money apparently was used to fund the ruling party’s legislative election campaign in 2000. If he had received the money in March 2000, as the prosecution alleged, it was only a month before the election. This is not simple bribery; it involves 20 billion won ($16.7 million).
Even if Mr. Kwon received the money from Hyundai to support his party’s candidates, the three-year statute of limitations of the political fund law has already expired, making it difficult to punish those involved. Some in the prosecution reportedly were reluctant to question politicians, citing the elapsed time, and we worry that the case will be downplayed and called nothing more than the personal corruption of Mr. Kwon.
It is inappropriate for the prosecution to investigate all the party’s campaign funds, but it is still important to reveal where Mr. Kwon spent the money in order to make clear its purpose.
The ruling party lawmakers who reportedly received Mr. Kwon’s support or are suspected of doing so must cooperate with the prosecution. If they refuse to do so, they will be suspected of being involved in illicit deals. Those lawmakers have insisted that they did not receive a penny from Mr. Kwon, so they would have no reason to object to the prosecution’s probe.
During an election campaign, money always runs short and candidates would probably take money from a powerful colleague with no questions asked. Few politicians are untainted by illicit election campaign money, but we should not turn a blind eye to that practice forever.
Mr. Kwon’s case may serve as the beginning of political reform. Asking no questions about Mr. Kwon’s cash is nearly the same as letting corrupt politics go unchallenged.
The prosecution must reveal everything, and politicians must ask forgiveness from the people.
For how long will our politics have to be shackled by black money?