[EDITORIALS]Roh must clarify funding

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[EDITORIALS]Roh must clarify funding

At a meeting with the leaders of the four major parties yesterday, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “I am willing to retire from politics if the amount of illegal campaign funds [used by my side] exceeded one-tenth that of the Grand National Party.” Is this what a person who takes supreme responsibility for the government should say? By making such a remark, Mr. Roh has taken an inappropriate and irresponsible attitude about illegality, the perception of the presidency and the effect on the prosecution’s investigation.
The presidency is an important position which carries with it the duty to be faithful to the job along with the right to exercise supreme executive power. It can never be wagered out of personal emotion or for party interests. Mr. Roh too often threatens people by saying, “I can no longer perform the job” or “I want a vote of confidence on my leadership.” If the president’s words cause people to lose confidence like the shepherd boy who cried wolf, it will cause enormous damage to the country and the people, besides being a misfortune for the president himself.
If illegal funds were used during the presidential election, that constitutes a crime. Even if the amount Mr. Roh’s camp spent was smaller than that of the opposition, it cannot be exempt from responsibility. There is no such criterion as one-tenth is acceptable, but one-fifth is not.
Although an incumbent president cannot be indicted on criminal charges except for crimes related to insurrection and foreign troubles, a crime committed in the course of an election can be a serious matter that can provoke controversy over the validity of the election itself. On such a serious matter, it is not proper to present one-tenth as a yardstick for a decision.
Why didn’t Mr. Roh think of the effect of his remark on the prosecution? Apart from the opposition’s criticism that it amounts to setting a guideline for the prosecution, his remark makes it difficult for people to accept the investigation results at face value. Mr. Roh has reversed his earlier proposal to confess. He must return to that pledge to begin the “politics of confession.”
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