[EDITORIALS]Back up your wordsWhy did President Roh Moo-hyun call a special press conference yesterday? Voters anticipated that Mr. Roh would try to resolve quickly the crisis over illegal political funds and set out a positive, forward-looking vision for the nation. What the voters got instead was Mr. Roh repeating what he has been saying for the past few months.
It was highly inappropriate for President Roh to reiterate that he would resign from office if his illegal political funds exceeded a tenth of those of the opposition Grand National Party, and that he would seek a way to gauge the public’s trust in his presidency after the prosecution’s investigation was over. By saying that, he revealed more than he said ― that he did not pay much attention to the criticism that staking his presidency amounted to a threat and aggravated the public’s anxiety. After meeting with political party leaders Sunday, Mr. Roh said that a national referendum to gauge the trust in his presidency was impossible but talked about finding another way to get that expression of support. Does he mean to fan the uncertainty of the situation further? On the controversial “one-tenths” remark, Mr. Roh said that he meant what he said. Moments later, he told his listeners, “Understand that my offer to resign from politics was to stress a point.”
He admitted that his 2002 presidential campaign was partially funded by “illegal funds.” As he himself said: in for a penny, in for a pound. He would be contradicting his own words if he were to focus on the relative levels of illegal funds between the Grand National Party and his campaign.
Mr. Roh said he offered his resignation to “puncture the opposition’s inflated political attack on the prosecution investigation as biased.” Mr. Roh must realize that his 10-percent standard will definitely influence the prosecutors’ investigation of campaign funds.
Mr. Roh does deserve credit for wanting to accelerate political reform and cooperate with the prosecution. Will he follow through? As he asks for politicians to cooperate so that the prosecution’s investigation can end and political reform moves can begin, he himself has some decisions to make.