[EDITORIALS]Reform campaign finance

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[EDITORIALS]Reform campaign finance

President Roh Moo-hyun’s separate meetings during the weekend with the leaders of the four major parties failed to reach a consensus on major national issues. They stayed apart on how to deal with the illegal presidential campaign funding in last year’s election; whether to hold a national referendum on Mr. Roh’s performance, and how to deal with objections to the troop dispatch to Iraq. This was expected, but we still feel nervous to see national leaders disappoint people.
They came closer together only on a “thorough investigation of presidential campaign funds.” But they agreed on this because of public opinion against SK Group’s secret donations, not out of sincerity. Now the political community must agree on a method by which the whole picture of the campaign’s funding can be revealed. If the investigation exposes only the Grand National Party’s funding, it will be criticized as a partial investigation.
Both the ruling and opposition parties must investigate their own election funds first, make detailed lists public and then go through a verification procedure by law enforcement authorities. Either the prosecution or an independent counsel, as is demanded by the GNP, can start tracing the accounts based on the material. It will also prevent criticism that one side is being victimized.
Once such measures are taken, political reform ― changing the election system, the operation of local party chapters and campaign finance ― can be sincerely promoted. For violators of campaign finance laws, the statute of limitations should be longer than three years, and punishment should be more severe. If we fail to change our political system to a low-cost one, the investigation of SK Group’s secret fund that stirred politics and the economy all year will end with no lesson learned, and another such scandal will break after next year’s legislative elections.
The adverse effect on the economy and society will be a problem. Large businesses are nervous because the fallout of the election fund scandal could affect them. This is why the government must take measures to minimize side effects on the economy.
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