[EDITORIALS]Some impartiality is overdueThe National Election Commission will hold a general meeting tomorrow to discuss President Roh Moo-hyun’s alleged involvement in election affairs. The meeting comes eight days after Mr. Roh said, during a televised Feb. 24 interview, “I hope the public will overwhelmingly support Our Open Party.”
We believe the commission responded belatedly. Still, we will keep a close eye on the meeting, because it will be the commission’s last chance to confirm its political impartiality, which seems to have been greatly undermined.
So far, the commission has not demonstrated that it is a fair administrator of election affairs. Though the law prohibits government officials from engaging in election campaigns, the committee remained a spectator as Mr. Roh explicitly supported Our Open Party. It failed to be resolute against Mr. Roh’s illegal campaigning last year as well. Furthermore, it invited criticism with its recent decision that a civic group supporting Our Open Party should be considered impartial.
The concern that the election might be influenced by abuse of governmental authority is serious. The public doubts the commission can prevent such influence. Opposition parties do not hesitate to mention the possibility of impeaching Yoo Ji-dam, the head of the commission. This is the first case of its kind in the commission’s history. If it is at odds with the opposition, then the opposition will not think the election results are fair.
Another problem with the commission is that Mr. Yoo refuses to attend a National Assembly hearing. He asks, “How can athletes summon the referee and try to make the game advantageous for them?” But we think the athletes called the referee because he is not doing well. The assembly passed the bill to summon him by a vote of 133 to 25.
The commission head sometimes attended assembly hearings before 1989. Also, it is customary for the head to join the assembly’s inspection of government offices and attend meetings of its government administration committee, even if only to say hello. We ask Mr. Yoo to stop talking about independence and voluntarily go to the assembly so that he can relieve the public’s apprehensions about his commission.