A historic interrogation
The public will witness a former president entering a prosecutor’s office this coming Thursday for the third time in history. But with President Roh Moo-hyun, it will be different. The people felt no sense of betrayal when the two former presidents, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo were arrested. The corruption at the root of their “Fifth Republic” was already an established fact.
But Roh Moo-hyun is a different figure in a different era. He shouted from the mountaintop that he was a different kind of leader. So there will be a bitter feeling of trust betrayed when we witness Roh summoned to the prosecutors’ office.
Roh Moo-hyun denies all the charges against him. What he does admit is that he accepted a wristwatch worth 100 million won ($75,000). He will continue to deny them when he is questioned.
His assertion might be right. Roh Moo-hyun the lawyer is fully armed with a variety of legal principles, and surely he will fiercely fight with the prosecutors.
When he stands on the photo line after being interrogated, he will already be a criminal in the eyes of the public. Although his crimes have not been confirmed by the law, Roh has been found guilty from a moral and historical perspective, and in terms of public sentiment.
Until now, his martyr act deceived many people, and recent revelations have shocked those who chose the former president’s Uri Party in elections. Those who helped see him through impeachment have also had their hearts broken. The people who approached Roh’s “powerless brother” have been brought low. With or without the president’s knowledge, his family, entourage and political regime rushed to gain privileges. No betrayal and hypocrisy is greater than this.
The case of Taekwang Industrial Chairman Park Yeon-cha faces a serious turning point with the prosecution’s decision to summon Roh. The prosecution should be able to discover what the Roh Moo-hyun group has tried to hide. We need to find out just how deep the corruption was; to what degree Roh was involved; whether people exchanged money for power or privilege; and how the former first lady and her son planned to repay their debt for the “investments” from Park.
Roh should stand before the prosecutor not with the attitude of a typical defendant, but as a historical figure who must do penance for his sins. If he had no knowledge of this wide-reaching corruption, he should reveal how ignorant he was, or if he did know, to what degree he was involved and why he failed to stop it. And if he did it to survive in politics, he should reveal just how desperate he was.