[EDITORIALS]Abuse of presidential pardons

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[EDITORIALS]Abuse of presidential pardons

The special pardons granted by President Roh Moo-hyun to mark Buddha’s birthday are improper.
Those receiving pardons include core figures of big businesses who provided illegal funds to politicians. The government said, “This is because we now have to focus on economic recovery efforts.” That may be true. But we see some indications that the present pardons of businessmen are a step to pardon politicians involved in the illegal campaigning scandal later. The pardoning of Kang Geum-won, a businessman very close to Mr. Roh, in particular, adds to this speculation.
The current pardons are clearly an abuse of the president’s rights. Mr. Kang has been a long-time financial supporter of Mr. Roh. He is the one who was financially involved in the allegations surrounding Jangsucheon, a business in which Mr. Roh had a hand, and the allegations of a false transaction regarding land in Yongin. Mr. Roh may well want to pardon Mr. Kang, but the president should apply stricter principles to affairs in which he is involved.
Mr. Kang, furthermore, received a three-year suspended prison term with four years’ probation last year on the charge that he embezzled 5 billion won ($5 million) of company money and evaded taxes worth 1.35 billion won. It is not right to include a man involved in embezzlement and tax evasion in the current pardons for businessmen involved in illegal political fund-raising.
It is absurd to hear the claim by some politicians that their colleagues who were convicted of receiving illegal funds from businesses should be included in the Aug. 15 Independence Day pardons. It seems they have a rationale that the cases that took place before the launch of the Roh administration should be forgiven while any future corruption should be strictly punished.
How can they talk about political reform when they want to return convicted politicians to the political stage? The public still has vivid memories of the convicted politicians’ wrongdoing. The legal order of the nation will not be maintained if they are pardoned. Opposition lawmakers should not be lured by the suggestion that their colleagues can be pardoned as well.
The presidential pardons should take place to achieve the unity and integration of the nation. If pardons keep taking place for personal interests, then we need a mechanism to check the president’s right to pardon.
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