[EDITORIALS]Are these groups ‘civic’?The Korea Women’s Associations United wants to build its own headquarters building at a cost of 6 billion won ($6.3 million), and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy has bought a site for its own building at a land price of 2.5 billion won.
It is understandable that the two civic groups want to have their own buildings. They both occupy cramped quarters, and the landlord of the building they now share has asked them to vacate.
But the ways the two civic groups are raising funds to finance construction has led to a hot controversy.
People’s Solidarity has raised 500 million won of the 2.5 billion won price for the site with contributions that it collected in a fund-raising campaign.
As part of the campaign, the civic group invited 850 publicly listed companies and major technology start-up companies to an event in April to raise 190 million won in donations. Since the civic group held the event directly before it announced the results of its survey of illegal inheritance procedures at Korean companies, the event became a lightning rod for criticism.
In March, 2005, People’s Solidarity severely criticized the Community Chest of Korea for spending 4 billion won raised from donations from corporate charities to purchase an office building. In a statement, People’s Solidarity said, “Except for allowable administrative expenses amounting to 10 percent of the donations, all donations to the Community Chest should have been spent on social welfare projects. Community Chest neglected the basic meaning of its kind of group.”
So what is different when People’s Solidarity demands donations from companies on its watch list to fund its own building projects? The civic group should reveal the details of donations it has received to the public.
It is also a less than acceptable way for a civic group to act that the Women’s Associations United has invited powerful people, such as Blue House secretaries, the chairwomen of the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development and the Presidential Committee on Social Inclusion and lawmakers of the Uri Party to join its promotional committee for its office building construction.
These are leading civic groups in Korea. They should have moral standards suitable for their heightened status.
To finance the construction of their buildings, they should depend on membership fees and donations from citizens.