[EDITORIALS]Party must open its books

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[EDITORIALS]Party must open its books

We are eager to know exactly how much money was raised by the Roh Moo-hyun election campaign headquarters because the amount changes every time Representative Lee Sang-soo of Our Open Party, who was in charge of fund-raising, tries to explain the source of the money. In the political community, there’s a running joke that his name is “strange”, or “isang” in Korean, when it is read from the beginning, but it sounds “suspicious,” or “susang,” when read in reverse.
On Thursday, Mr. Lee said, “The total amount in the account, including 1 billion won ($850,000) from SK Group, was 5 billion won. The money from four major businesses was not included in the amount. The rest is from businesses such as Doosan, Poongsan, etc.” When the press pointed out that he contradicted his previous explanation, he backtracked, saying, “Of 5 billion won, 2.5 billion won came from SK Group; the remaining 2.5 billion won came from five big businesses.” The Jeju province supporters’ association, which he headed, reported to the National Election Commission that it raised 2.9 billion won. But if he says he used the same account to raise 5 billion won, he will be accused of making a false report to the commission.
He can be confused by the figures. Now that the whole nation is stirred up by the election fund, how can people believe him when he changes his story every time he talks? One explanation, that he uncovered a discrepancy while matching the amount the party reported to the commission with the actual amount it raised, sounds more persuasive. We wonder how much was actually raised and what complicated methods were used that confused Mr. Lee. He blames the press, saying, “The media carry irresponsible reports.” We wonder whether those following Our Open Party’s “code” are accustomed to blaming the press.
People who worked for Mr. Roh’s election campaign must make public the bank account and the account for political donations. They must also verify details of the blank receipts they issued at four local chapters of the party where Mr. Roh’s close aides were in charge. If the prosecution unveils the truth, Our Open Party will lose its moral ground for existence.
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