[EDITORIALS]Our Open Party stays shutOur Open Party’s reaction to the allegations of improper presidential campaign financing by the Grand National Party has been disappointing. It was quick to say the giant opposition must be broken up, but Our Open Party, which is in all practical purposes the ruling party, has yet to show any signs of looking back earnestly on itself. The party likes to say there is a difference in scale between what it might have accepted and what the Grand National Party has been accused of, but a thief is a thief no matter how much money it took.
It does not take a lot of imagination to believe that both President Roh Moo-hyun and his rival, Lee Hoi-chang, went over the legal spending limit during the election. But Our Open Party is showing no indication that it is going to go public with its campaign finances. Not only that, it is busy shutting up members who appear willing to talk. The party’s interim deputy floor leader, Kim Duck-bae, said yesterday that 80 million won ($67,500) was transferred to the account of his local party chapter during last year’s campaign, then kept changing the figure to as little as 30 million won. This could translate to over 15 billion won in total. In any case this is far more than the 6.9 billion won that the party’s top campaign finance official at the time, lawmaker Lee Sang-soo, mentioned.
There is bound to be misunderstanding as long as Our Open Party remains mum and nothing comes out from the investigation. This is the basis of the speculation that the prosecution is using the weaknesses of big businesses to extract confessions about illegal contributions to the Grand National Party only. It seems unlikely that corporations with much to lose will volunteer to give information critical of the president.
There is enough circumstantial evidence that Our Open Party is not entirely guiltless. How long is it going to remain silent? It should remember the consequences that the Grand National Party has had to live with for ignoring the chance to come clean. If Our Open Party intends to enjoy the benefits of a ruling party in prosecution’s investigation, it must retract its slogan of political reform.