[EDITORIALS]Face the music, Mr. RheeSupporters of Representative Rhee In-je of the United Liberal Democrats have been protesting in front his district office in Nonsan, South Chungcheong province since Monday. They oppose the arrest warrant issued for the politician by the prosecutors’ office. As a result, prosecution officials who were sent to enforce the warrant have been put on hold.
On numerous occasions, prosecutors have asked Mr. Rhee to appear for questioning on charges of receiving bribes from the Grand National Party during the presidential election. His refusal to accept the requests led to the issuing of the warrant. If a warrant is issued through normal legal procedures, the subject should respect it. In addition, Mr. Rhee is a former judge. It is inappropriate for a person with experience in a senior legal position to hide behind his supporters and say that he was singled out, or that the investigations are acts of political suppression.
And although we understand how Mr. Rhee’s supporters feel, they must put an end to the radical demonstrations. Of course we expect them to feel shocked over the party’s results in the recent Assembly elections. The fact that the party’s founder, Kim Jong-pil, is also under investigation has also had a shocking effect on party members. But bringing containers containing liquified petroleum gas to the demonstrations will not win the protesters the understanding of the general public. Mr. Rhee should persuade his supporters to stop the radical acts.
Comments by Mr. Rhee that stimulated regionalism were also inappropriate. He has been telling people that the prosecution was trying to get rid of politicians from the Chungcheong provinces. But the investigations into illegal funds during the 2002 presidential election were aimed at the Grand National Party and President Roh Moo-hyun’s election camp as well, and suspicions about Mr. Rhee happened to come up, which Mr. Rhee knows very well. Should he continue making such remarks, he will not be free from criticism that he is using regionalism to escape judgement.
If Mr. Rhee is a responsible politician, it would be wiser for him to ask his supporters to stop the demonstrations. He must face the prosecution’s questions and if he is innocent, he must explain himself.