Suspicious LeeEvery day, new suspicions rise against Lee Myung-bak. Yesterday, the impatient Grand National Party asked for a prosecutorial investigation into five lawmakers of the Uri Party for illegally securing personal information about Lee, creating suspicions he had speculated on real estate.
In the United States, presidential hopefuls are scrutinized even for remarks they made when they were young. They take it for granted as part of the process to become the top leader of the country.
The question is whether such suspicions are raised legitimately. Some of the accusations raised against Lee here recently were based on information that is not accessible to ordinary citizens.
At an information committee meeting of the National Assembly yesterday, Kim Man-bok, head of the National Intelligence Service, admitted that the state intelligence agency keeps personal records about Lee and his rival, Park Geun-hye.
Kim refused a request from GNP lawmakers on the committee to reveal who accessed the records of the two candidates. It leaves doubt in the people’s minds about whether that information is being used by the opposition to attack the candidates.
In a truely democratic society, the intervention of an intelligence agency is never allowed. It is a step back in the advancement of democracy in Korea. The presidential election will be swayed and defamed unless the government stays neutral.
However, such concerns over the government’s intervention cannot justify the alleged wrongdoings of a presidential candidate. The suspicions surrounding Lee defy public understanding and cannot be overlooked. Lee’s decision not to respond is inappropriate.
Korea’s courts do not recognize the validity of illegally acquired evidence. But that should not be the case in a presidential election. Regardless of how such material is acquired, if any illegal actions were committed by a presidential hopeful, he or she must take responsibility.
Presidential candidates are public figures and don’t deserve the protection of their privacy in any circumstances.
It is irresponsible for Lee to try to get around the issue by claiming it is an infringement on his privacy.
The public wants to know the truth behind the suspicions. Anyone who wants to become president is required to make sincere public explanations. Sealing their lips about the truth is the same thing as lying.