[EDITORIALS]Get rid of political extortionSK Group Chairman Son Kil-seung’s remarks on presidential election political contributions clearly show the impudence of political circles. “I could not help giving money (10 billion won or $8.5 million), because the Grand National Party made threats that the SK Group could suffer if the party came to power,” Mr. Son said in a seminar of group managers.
He also reportedly said, “SK Group affiliates provided the Millennium Democratic Party with 2.5 billion won, the maximum amount for one year, but we chipped in another 2.5 billion won at the request of Lee Sang-soo, the secretary general for Roh Moo-hyun’s election committee.”
If these comments are true, the political groups forced businesses to make illegal donations, and SK Group paid a large sum as “insurance.” Prosecutors should thoroughly examine what Mr. Son said.
Mr. Son said that while Kim Dae-jung was in power, SK Group had given 14 billion won to the ruling Millennium Democratic Party and 800 million won to the opposition Grand National Party, which must have been disappointed that they didn’t get as much as the MDP. However, the GNP’s threats are similar to those made by a gangster.
If Mr. Lee had indeed asked for an additional 2.5 billion won from SK Group, Mr. Roh’s campaign would be no better than that of the opposition party. His action would be understandable if the old Millennium Democratic Party members had not passed on the first 2.5 billion won to the election committee. Still, SK Group was ripped off twice.
“We did not have much difficulty whenever the government changed, but underestimating changes among young prosecutors was a problem,” Mr. Son said. This comment is astonishing as SK Group essentially confessed that it had curried favor with the government and the prosecutors in the previous administrations.
Mr. Son should publicly admit this. The election committees of both the ruling and opposition parties should stop making excuses and instead have those who are responsible appear before prosecutors.