[EDITORIALS]Does Roh care about the law?President Roh Moo-hyun, at his interview with the weekly Hankyoreh 21 said, “Why is it a problem that the president, as a politician, supports or makes remarks supporting a particular party?”
Mr. Roh is wrong to ask this because the president is a government official who is not allowed to engage in an election campaign.
Article 9 of Korea’s election law stipulates, “Government officials shall not unwarrantedly influence elections or engage in acts that will influence election outcomes.” Also, Article 60 specifies that government officials are those who shall not be engaged in election campaigns.
The law regulating government officials, furthermore, defines the president as a government official.
Let’s get back to the election law again. Article 86 prohibits government officials’ acts that may influence elections.
There are some exceptions to this rule: Government officials who are allowed to extol to their colleagues and constituents the achievements of particular parties or candidates are lawmakers and their aides and local council members. Obviously, the president does not belong in any of these categories.
The article says those who violate the law will be subject to a maximum three years’ imprisonment or fines less than 6 million won ($5,100).
The laws clearly ban the president’s involvement with election affairs, but Mr. Roh says, “I think opposition parties make foolish remarks [that the president cannot engage in an election campaign,] and the press just repeats what the parties say.” We find Mr. Roh’s view very problematic.
Actually, even if the president violates the laws, it will be difficult to stop him. The Constitution provides the president with criminal immunity except for cases of rebellion or treason. Indeed, there is no way to punish the president even if he violates the election law.
Mr. Roh replied to the criticism that he made remarks supporting Our Open Party, saying, “I will not be discouraged by such groundless slander and unreasonable claims. I will just ignore them.”
If this means that he doesn’t care about violating the law, then the nation’s election law is useless. Who would obey the law that the head of the state himself does not follow?