The truth about commissionsThe decade-long controversy over truth commissions is likely to last for another year. The commissions have asked the National Assembly for over 200 billion won ($157 million) for next year.
The legislature has made no move to integrate the commissions. The administration has passed the buck to the National Assembly, saying it is responsible for the integration.
In its early days, the Lee Myung-bak administration promised that it would restore the identity and historical legitimacy of the Republic of Korea, which it said were severely damaged during the decade of liberal rule by presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. The Lee administration promised to consolidate the truth commissions, but the plan is unlikely to be realized.
At the beginning of this year, the presidential transition team said five truth commissions would be shut down after their mandates expire. It also said nine commissions would be consolidated into a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
In April, the Board of Audit and Inspection informed the home affairs ministry that the commissions’ activities overlapped and urged corrective measures.
The commissions, however, have requested budgets for next year similar to the amounts they had this year. The finance ministry has reflected their requests in its budget plan without reservation.
Correcting history is crucial for a nation’s future. The state is responsible for finding the truth about inhumane crimes committed by the Japanese colonial government and the authoritarian regimes. This will restore the honor of the victims and their families.
The commissions have spent tens of billions of won over the past decade investigating incidents dating back a century, but far from encouraging truth and reconciliation, they have prompted conflicts and splits. It is questionable if their activities have contributed to our nation’s future.
Given that the commissions have had nearly a decade, we should have seen some reconciliation and healing by now. But we are instead looking back and seriously examining how many of the probes actually contributed to further understanding of our history. The commissions’ poor performance can largely be attributed to their left-leaning tendency.
The Lee administration must keep its promise that it will return “the lost decade” to the people. Correcting history is a matter directly linked to this nation’s identity.