No cloaking of the truth

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No cloaking of the truth

Politicians have made very inappropriate remarks regarding the prosecution’s investigation of an alleged bribery case. A security guards association made a donation of 270 million won ($241,572) to 33 lawmakers to help pass a law improving their salaries. In the process, the association divided the money into smaller amounts to conceal the identity of the donors. The association reportedly has also collected a total of 800 million won from its members, which raises the question of where the rest of the money went.

Regarding those suspicions, Grand National Party Chairman Ahn Sang-soo expressed outrage, saying, “The prosecution’s investigation should not be allowed.” The opposition Democratic Party’s floor leader, Park Jie-won, sided with him by arguing that it’s an investigation with malicious intention. If leaders of both political parties raise their voices in unison on the issue, prosecutors’ desire to see justice done cannot help but be diminished.

But any citizen in Korea is allowed to make donations to politicians who share the same political orientation and views. And donations should be encouraged, rather than discouraged, as long as the amount does not exceed the limit set by the law regulating political financing.

However, the story becomes very different when it’s about trading money for legislation. On the surface, the donations in this case appear to have come from individuals. But we cannot rule out the possibility that the association attempted to transfer a large amount of money to politicians’ bank accounts by splitting it into many smaller units to camouflage the source and make it look as if it was coming from individuals.

The group was known to have donated a maximum of 50 million won at a time, which means the money was split into 10 smaller units, as the upper allowable amount is 5 million won. Donations of less than 100,000 won don’t have to disclose the donor’s name, but that would mean that 500 donors contributed. No matter how just the legislation is, the legislators should be punished if they were bought.

If it really was a collection of donations by individuals without political motives, as the legislators are now saying, there is nothing for them to worry about. But if the political camps angrily object, it would naturally affect the investigation.

Politicians should stop building protective shields around themselves and patiently wait for the results of the investigation.
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