[EDITORIALS]Lee must confessLee Hoi-chang, former chairman of the Grand National Party, met with the press yesterday and made apologies over illegal fund-raising during last year’s presidential election campaign. He said, “If someone has to go to jail, it should be me.” He also said, “It makes me feel miserable and question the meaning of the life I have lived so far.” Since he announced his retirement from politics after his election defeat and went abroad, he might never have thought of being forced one day to apologize to the people over election financing. But his apology was vague and there was no confession and substance in it.
In the controversy over illegal campaign funds, Mr. Lee is the person who can provide decisive answers. And, as the then-head of the campaign headquarters and the incumbent party chairman have already made apologies, Mr. Lee’s press conference should have been one with heartfelt reflection and a concrete confession. But he either evaded giving answers or made passive replies to questions on how much money was raised, and whether he knew of the money from SK Group. With such an attitude, it is difficult to understand what he was apologizing for.
Even if we consider Mr. Lee’s reputation that he is a “blank” as far as money is concerned, people speculate that he might have received a report afterwards. They say it is irresponsible that a person who wanted to be the president says that he did not know that the party received 10 billion won ($8.5 million) from a business conglomerate. Mr. Lee’s close aides insisted that the reason Mr. Lee could not give a proper answer was because of his ignorance of illegal fund-raising. If that is the case, it will be working-level party officials who will be punished. We cannot trust his word that “I will take all responsibility including legal obligations.”
Mr. Lee must disclose frankly how much money was raised and then apologize. Then, people will recognize the sincerity of his apology. He should also cooperate with the prosecution’s investigation, so that he can help eradicate the problem in which elections are tainted with illegal political funds. This is the way he can restore his honor.