[EDITORIALS]Mr. Lee confessesLee Hoi-chang, the former head of the Grand National Party, confessed that he had ordered illegal fund-raising by the party when he was its presidential candidate. He then appeared at the prosecution for questioning. It may be belated, but what he did was meaningful. Major candidates in past presidential elections spent enormous amount of illegal funds, but none had admitted to such spending. Of course, prosecutors have uncovered a significant part of the illegal funds at this point, but the probe would have faced obstacles and the political strife would have worsened if Mr. Lee had kept silent.
As Mr. Lee said, “it was undeniably wrong to raise election funds illegally even in a desperate situation.” Mr. Lee entered the political arena with the image of bamboo, a Korean metaphor for a straightforward personality. He had stressed that he would build a society where law and principle were respected. Let’s assume that he had won the presidency with illegal money. How could he possibly ask the people to respect law and principle?
Moreover, it is an open secret that large business groups paid political money based on their evaluations of the presidential candidates. When the sums were more than 10 billion won ($8.3 million), who would believe that the candidate did not know about them?
With Mr. Lee’s press conference and his appearance at the prosecution, the investigation into the illicit election funds can make significant progress. Prosecutors must speed up their probe. They should investigate President Roh Moo-hyun’s camp as well so that its impartiality is not suspect.
Politicians must also cooperate with the investigators. Representatives Choi Don-woong and Kim Young-iel, who handled Mr. Lee’s funds during the election campaign, must answer the prosecution’s summons immediately. President Roh has said, “I do not say that I didn’t know,” and “I will resign if my camp’s funds were more than 10 percent of those received by the Grand National Party.” We urge Mr. Roh to stop his political rhetoric. It’s time for him to tell the truth.