[EDITORIALS]Compromise on financeThe Federation of Korean Industries proposed a blueprint for campaign financing reform that included no more individual donations and a request for blanket immunity for the business community from all criminal and civil responsibility for “past mistakes.” It in effect calls for putting aside all past illegal campaign contributions and accounting irregularities to cover them up while setting up a guideline for harsh punishment of future wrongdoing.
Accounting fraud was a customary practice before the financial crisis, and it is no secret that many companies that have failed to clean up their acts in time are still suffering from the aftermath. This has been a vulnerability that compelled them to be involved in illegal campaign financing, and some executives and owners have gone to jail for that. So it is not surprising that the business community came out demanding campaign financing reform and a pardon for past deeds. It recognizes the need to break the cycle of past contributions coming back to haunt them at the beginning of every new administration.
The problem is that the business community’s idea is no simple proposal to implement. If businesses are made to disclose all accounting manipulation done to hide contributions, there is bound to be a sharp fall in the credibility of both the business community and also the national economy in the eyes of international investors. Business executives may claim to be victims, but they have surely on more than a few occasions voluntarily looked up politicians looking for favors. Foreign shareholders are also not likely to take the request for immunity from civil liability favorably.
The problems of illegal campaign financing and accounting fraud cannot drag on forever. Campaign finance reform is necessary if there is going to be an economic recovery and democratic maturity. We have the chance to purge ourselves if past misdeeds come out
We need a compromise that will both minimize the impact on the economy and transform the situation into an opportunity for the country to advance further, with a consensus of our people.
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