[EDITORIALS]A chance to resolve confusionPresident Roh Moo-hyun is to hold a series of meetings with the leaders of four parties today and tomorrow. The meetings should provide a starting point to resolve national confusion and conflicts. Korean society is now swept up in colossal confusion over such issues as illegal election campaign funds, the president’s proposal for a confidence vote and sending additional troops to Iraq.
First of all, the leaders should devise a scheme to break free from the shackles of the election campaign fund scandal. At the moment, the Grand National Party has been driven into a corner after Repesentative Choi Don-woong admitted receiving illegal donations of 10 billion won ($8.4 million) from SK Group, the country’s third-largest conglomerate. When it comes to election funds, however, no political party is free of doubt. If the parties take things easy and involve themselves only in political battles, thinking time will heal everything, that would only fuel public distrust. The whole picture of each party’s election fund usage should be cleared, even if an independent counsel is introduced.
When the names of businesses and the amounts donated are disclosed, that would have negative effects on the entire business sector and economy. Also, it is not easy to come up with the right guidelines for punishment that would convince both politicians and the public when there is no clear border between political funds and bribery. Mr. Roh and the party leaders should reach a political consensus. But it would only be self-contradictory if the political sector comes up with a bill to pardon itself. In any form, a process to ask the people’s opinion is necessary.
Whether a referendum is the right procedure for seeking the confidence should be decided at the Blue House meetings. It must be considered that there is an argument that it would violate the constitution and there is no agreement on it even within the political sector itself. Also, Mr. Roh should make himself clear on the timing and size of the additional troops for Iraq, and on whether or not combat troops will be sent, and then seek cooperation from the political sector.