[EDITORIALS]An apology that wasn’tYesterday’s press conference by the leader of the Grand National Party, Choe Byung-yul, was disappointing. He said the party stands ready to accept responsibility for taking illegal campaign funds from SK Group, but it is not clear whether his words are genuine, or what it is that he is apologizing for and why.
If he was going to apologize, he should have started by specifying the wrongdoing. But he did not go beyond what the prosecution has uncovered. He did not clarify who ordered the collection of the illegal funds, or who and what processes were involved in the collection. The party’s secretary-general at the time, Kim Young-iel, has also said he would take responsibility, without explaining how the party’s leadership was involved.
Of course, Mr. Choe has a point when he takes issue with the prosecution’s focus on the Grand National Party, when the then-incumbent Millennium Democratic Party did not exactly run a squeaky-clean campaign. But his proposal to bring in an independent counsel to investigate the entire election fails to convince when it lacks an explanation of his own party’s activities. Such an incomplete apology, coupled with the proposal to investigate everybody, only comes across as an attempt to obstruct the prosecution’s work.
The sincerity of his independent counsel proposal is also questionable, as it comes from a political leader who telephoned the top state attorney to stop the tracing of the party’s finances. What the public wants to know now is what the party did to finance its campaign. It would be dignified to confess its wrongdoings first and apologize.
The problem of illegal political funding should not end in a political settlement again. If the prosecution comes up short of exposing everything, an independent counsel should be brought in and the clandestine, corrupting ties should be broken. But the investigation is still on, and as long as the public does not question the prosecution’s work, we should let the process run its course. The prosecution also ought to look into the president’s campaign funds and the wrongdoings of his aides thoroughly, if only to erase public doubts about its impartiality.