[EDITORIALS]Bolster political donation lawData on political donors recently released by the National Election Commission proves the need to reinforce the system to make donation practices more transparent. The political fund law that was revised last year, of course, played a big role in making the donation practice transparent. The legislation allowed the commission to reveal the names of donors who contributed more than 1.2 million won ($1,190) in political funds. It was remarkable considering past practices in which political donations were secret.
The commission’s new data, however, shows that donations are still illegitimately given.
According to news reports, even though the commission’s list shows that some housewives donated money to lawmakers, they were unaware of their donations. Some lawmakers who received money from housewives also said they did not know the donors.
This is because executives of businesses used their spouses’ names to conceal their identities. According to current regulations, those who donate money under assumed or other names will be fined a maximum of 2 million won.
And the reports show that 11 executives of a company donated money to 35 lawmakers so that each lawmaker could receive 10 million won. The executives claim that they themselves provided the money but we suspect that it was the company that made the donations. If the company did make the donations, then it would go against the current regulation that bans political donations by businesses. The commission said it would thoroughly probe the case because it also suspects the company made the donations.
We are aware of the Korean culture relating to political donations: Businesses that deed political favors should make donations if the politicians ask.
But they do not want to reveal their names and thus try to use loopholes in the law, or break the law. And that is why some politicians and businesses claim that the political fund law needs to be amended so that it can become more flexible. But doing so would not help political reform that involves eradicating the illicit collusion between politicians and businesses. It will only contribute to a vicious circle of collusion.
To break the vicious circle, the system to make political donations transparent needs to be reinforced.