[EDITORIALS]Cleaning up politicsKorea’s third largest business conglomerate, SK Group, is reeling under a scandal of collusion with politicians. Following the exposures that SK Global rigged its books and SK Shipping stocked up on slush funds, the major shareholder, Chey Tae-won, was arrested. Now, the group’s chairman, Son Kil-seung, has been indicted on charges of tax evasion. What has been disclosed so far includes set-asides of hundreds of billions of won in secret funds and the distribution of tens of billions of won in bribes to politicians. It seems that there is no end in the collusion between politics and business.
The damage will not stop at SK Group, but will have bad effects on the whole business community. Large-scale irregularities involving Hyundai Group, SK Group and Goodmorning City have been exposed one after another. It is also disclosed that there was collusion between politicians and businessmen. Because of irregularities committed by them, other innocent Korean businesses are fingered as being the same kind, and Korea’s reputation overseas is tarnished.
Primarily, politicians are responsible for the collusion. But the business community cannot evade its share of blame. The more weakness at companies, the more they tend to crawl before politicians. Mr. Son said that he would not donate political funds, but he donated huge amounts. Against the backdrop of the death of Chung Mong-hun, the clandestine collaboration between politicians and businessmen under the guise of inter-Korean cooperation was exposed. If we don’t break the chain of corruption, it will be difficult to relaunch the Korean economy and enhance its international credibility.
The politics of high-cost campaigning should be changed. Both the donor and receiver of illegal funds must be punished. To enhance management transparency, accounting systems should be improved. And there should be means to check the tyranny of major shareholders. Most urgent is undoing regulations drastically. Under a system where bigger benefits come back if billions of won in bribes are given, it is only an empty slogan to talk of breaking the collusion.