[EDITORIALS]Amend political funds lawThe National Election Commission has proposed to the National Assembly a revision of the laws governing political funds. The commission wants the right to review all income and spending of political funds by political parties, election candidates and even primary election candidates. If the revision is made and implemented properly, the flow of political funds will become transparent, heightening the quality of our politics.
The laws stipulate that political parties must report incoming donations and how they are spent to the commission. And yet, the practice was carried out only to meet formalities. In 2000, between January and May, the Millennium Democratic Party raised 1.7 billion won ($1.4 million), and the Grand National Party raised 1.5 billion won for the 16th General Election. There was no report on the slush funds raised by Kwon Roh-kap. Not only the report was missing, but also there were no audit data on the violation.
If the political funds law is revised, the election commission will have the right to demand information and investigate politicians. The revision will also require all donors to use their real names and mandate the use of checks and credit cards for the transactions. By making the flow of political funds transparent, we are making big strides in political reform. Corruption and collusion between businessmen and politicians developed from secret deals on political funds.
Politicians are concerned that the reforms will stop the flow of money. The opposition parties, in particular, worry that revealing the names of contributors will reduce business donators. In 1997, the then ruling New Korea Party raised 36 billion won of political funds, whereas the opposition National Congress for New Politics raked in 18 billion won. After Kim Dae-jung was elected in 1998, the New Korea Party, now the Grand National Party, received 2.2 billion won. The new ruling party, the Millennium Democrats, received 31 billion won. This shows why opposition politicians worry.
Political reform is a task that we cannot avoid any longer. Politicians should tolerate a short-term loss and accept the revision.