[EDITORIALS]To reform, enforce the lawThe talk of the Lunar New Year holiday was about the economy and political reform. At their holiday gatherings, people sighed, not only because of their immediate economic difficulties but also because of the rising youth unemployment rate. They expressed dismay at how politicians who should be leading this country are immersed in corruption allegations. This has become absurd; the people, who now struggle to survive day by day, also need to worry about politicians.
These days, the Seoul Detention Center is said to be crowded with beomteol, a slang term for high-profile politicians and businessmen facing corruption charges. Currently, eight legislators are being held at the center. Over 30 beomteol are there altogether, including former senior government officials and business owners. The very leaders who should take care of the present and plan for the future of this country are in jail facing charges involving illegal political funds and bribery. This tells us what we need to fix first and foremost.
The problem is that the legislative elections in April will also be fueled by illegal campaign funds and activities. There are already reports of money being used inappropriately to influence voters. Political reform aimed at severing ties between politics and business is needed urgently.
The reform is not happening because existing laws, although tough, are not being enforced. That is why most politicians seem to ignore them. Even when corrupt politicians are uncovered by the election commission and the prosecution, the trials come slowly and sentencing even more slowly. Even after corrupt politicians are sentenced, they are usually pardoned by the president. The pattern is all to familiar.
If this situation continues, we’ll never get political reform. We must break these chains. First, the courts must conduct trials speedily. Politicians who get away with wearing the gold badge of the National Assembly for two and three years because their trials for illegal election activities have been delayed must be stopped in their tracks. Pardons should also be granted only under the strictest conditions, allowing corrupt politics to truly be buried ― for good. The public sentiment during the holidays strongly supports such changes.