[EDITORIALS]Fund-raising, arm-twistingThe People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy says it is being misunderstood. On the eve of announcing the results of an investigation on conglomerates’ methods for tinkling with their ownership structure, the watchdog has circulated an invitation for an event intended to raise funds for a new office. Knowing what the organization can do, there will be no company going to the event without money. This is not a misunderstanding. One has truly to admire the planning ability of the organization, which could not have timed the event at a better time.
The civic organization is saying that it needed money because of a request by a building owner. With a membership fee that ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 won ($10-20) and 1,800 registered members, it is hard for the organization to find an office location in central Seoul. That is also why the organization has raised the maximum amount of donations from 3 million won to 5 million won. The organization says raising the maximum is something that can be understood using common sense and is not a problem.
The timing of the event is also questionable. The organization argues that the sponsorship night is an annual event and the announcement of its findings about conglomerates was delayed due to legal concerns, but it looks like the watchdog group is using its sword while stretching out its hand at the same time. To criticism, the group says, “What’s wrong? Anyone who doesn’t want to come can stay away.”
Perhaps so, but companies that have received invitations have a dilemma. In light of recent scandals involving Hyundai Motors and possibly other companies, busineses do not look with equanimity upon the organization’s move to announce its findings on companies’ ownership. But to risk a confrontation with the organization over 5 million won is out of the question. The business community is saying that it should cooperate with the group, but is also saying that it cannot risk being put on the organization’s hit list.
We do not want to take away the achievement of the organization over the past 12 years. Nevertheless, to stretch out a hand to the business community is unacceptable. It seems the organization has forgotten how environmental groups embarrassed themselves when they tried to do “environmental business.” Civic organizations can be more effective working out of a humble office in the basement.
One has to ask whether this incident does not give us a peek at civic organizations’ desire for more power and authority.