[EDITORIALS]Busting corrupt politiciansCho Jae-hwan, secretary general of the Democratic Party, was arrested on the spot yesterday as he was receiving 400 million won in cash from someone wanting to become a party candidate in the upcoming local elections. The incident comes merely days after the Grand National Party complained to prosecutors about its own Park Sung-vum and Kim Deog-ryong, accused of taking bribes from prospective candidates for that party in the same elections. The entire political circle has been marred by such illegal practices.
The person who delivered the cash to Mr. Cho was Choi Nak-do, a three-term legislator who was hoping to run for the mayor of Gimje, North Jeolla province. Mr. Cho contended that Mr. Choi simply wanted his car keys because he wanted to load a gift into Mr. Cho’s car, and that he was not aware of boxes of cash. But Mr. Cho, a veteran politician, is someone who should know just what it means for a hopeful candidate to offer a gift to the secretary general of his party. For him to say he did not know the meaning of such gesture is to be deceptive.
The Democratic Party only gained 10 seats in the National Assembly in the last local elections, held after the Uri Party split following the presidential election. It was the ruling party during the Kim Dae-jung administration, but it has been going through a difficult period in recent years as a minor party. The arrest comes at a time when the party was just about to regain its ground in the South Jeolla area.
Apparently, the party’s leadership is still tempted by bribes in exchange for favors in party nominations. They do not deserve a return to glory. The excuse that the party accepted emergency funds at a time of financial difficulties rings hollow because even receiving “emergency funds” would be no different than accepting bribes for nomination favors.
The role of a political party ahead of the elections is to find someone with necessary qualification and experience for residents to choose. To nominate candidates only based on their regional backgrounds and on the amount of their bribes is to betray the residents of those regions.
The incident like yesterday’s is not an isolated one. It is a great shame that we still have to deal with corrupt politics. We have to eliminate all the corrupt lawmakers, and we cannot vote for candidates just because their parties have nominated them. Not voting for unqualified candidates will teach them lessons.