[EDITORIALS]Roh should rethink his words

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[EDITORIALS]Roh should rethink his words

The prosecution’s interim announcement about the investigation of illegal campaign funds of the 2002 presidential election puts the amount of illegal money received by President Roh Moo-hyun’s campaign at 11.3 billion won ($9.6 million), or 13.8 percent of the 82.3 billion won in illegal funds allegedly raised by the Grand National Party. More importantly, the amount ammounts for more than one-tenth of the Grand National Party’s illegal funds.
The investigation is still in progress, but it seems highly unlikely now that the president’s alleged illegal campaign funds will be less than one-tenth of the amount his rival, Grand National Party candidate Lee Hoi-chang, is accused of taking.
In addition, the Grand Nationals’ alleged illegal funds came to light last year, while the probe into Mr. Roh’s campaign funds was launched relatively recently. Continuing investigations may well reveal more.
On Dec. 14, the president said that he would resign if his campaign took more than one-tenth of what the Grand National Party took in illegal funds. He made that remark at the Blue House meeting with opposition party leaders and Kim One-ki, a senior leader of Our Open Party.
The figure “one-tenth” in effect has no legal significance; illegal funds are illegal. Even one-hundredth would still be illegal. The fact that the president allegedly raised more than 10 billion won in illegal funds is the germane issue. The prosecution should get to the bottom of the president’s illegal funds; that is what they need to do.
The sticking point here is that Mr. Roh’s political future hinges on his “one-tenth” remark. By stressing his moral high ground and confidence as a cleaner politician, Mr. Roh has defined his group as “noncorrupt” and the opposition as “corrupt.” No one can deny that the governing camp, the administration and Our Open Party benefited under that designation.
Mr. Roh should therefore personally clarify what he meant by his “one-tenth” remark, apologize to the party that sustained damages from his characterization of the opposition and retract his remarks. If not, the opposition has no choice but to request his resignation and that will stir up yet another political storm. The president should choose wisely.
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