[EDITORIALS]Foul political sustenanceIt was shocking to hear Ahn Dae-hee, a senior prosecutor in charge of the Central Investigation Department of the Supreme Prosecutors Office, criticizing politicians for accumulating wealth through political donations. Whenever a bribery scandal has been exposed, politicians have said the investigation was targeted and staged political offensives. They also protected their colleagues from being arrested by opening or prolonging Assembly sessions, abusing parliamentary immunity.
People may simply think: “Politicians might have received money because they needed money for political activities.” But Mr. Ahn suggests otherwise, saying that “Investigating their wrongdoings, the investigators sometimes feel real anger.”
It is alleged that politicians raise large sums of money through election campaigns, buy real estate overseas with the money and often bequeath the property to their children. A rumor that a certain commercial building is owned by a Korean lawmaker is not groundless gossip. Influential politicians are known to make more money each time they run for election.
Running for office and managing a local political organization cost money. As long as current election laws are not revised, it is difficult to manage political activity with money collected under the law. Politics, however, should not be a means to make money. Civil servants can be arrested if they accept more than five million won ($4,300); the practice of leaving untouched politicians who accepted hundreds of millions of won, or billions of won, should be stopped. There is no free lunch even though they claim there are no strings attached.
Moreover, accumulating wealth with illegally collected political money amounts to a criminal act. The prosecution is said to expand investigations into money politicians received during the last presidential election. The investigation gives us hope. Politicians who accumulated wealth with money they raised during election campaigns should be thrown out of office. When we drive out those politicians, our politics will be set right.