[EDITORIALS]Do it once and do it rightMembers of the Federation of Korean Industries have declared that they would “sever ties” with politics. There will be no more “improper” political contributions from them, and they will not allow their organization to be used for political purposes. The declaration obviously was aimed at the sour public sentiment that followed improprieties involving politicians at one end, the Hyundai Group, SK Shipping and Goodmorning City at the other.
But we question whether these businesses are really ready to distance themselves from corruption and political meddling. The federation is one of many business organizations that have made the same declaration several times, but there has been no clean break between money and politics.
The primary responsibility for improper political contributions rests with the politicians who solicit them. In the past, unfortunately, no business could succeed without a political patron. But business executives share the responsibility of perpetuating the practice, because they continue to lurk in the political shadows in search of favors.
We want to believe that the rumor that the federation acted as a collection agency for political contributions is an outdated story. And there have been important improvements, considering how closely business and politics were once intertwined. But some businesses continue to give in to the temptation of benefits in return for money, and it is still widely believed that contributions to politicians is like insurance ― they could pay off in times of need. In this regard, businessmen must take the responsibility for the rampant anti-business sentiment among Koreans.
The vicious cycle of corruption and collusion between business and politicians must cease. We have seen the consequences of such friendships. Laws on political contributions should be revised and tight restrictions that squeeze business activities should be relaxed. But what is more important is a sense of fair play by business executives. Without determination and the will to play fair, their declarations will ring hollow. Do it once and do it right instead of saying it a hundred times.