The laxest of standards

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The laxest of standards

The main opposition Democratic Party has decided not to push ahead with a controversial revision of the law on political fund-raising in the face of a strong political backlash. If the bill was passed, lawmakers will have almost unlimited access to various types of donations.

DP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu said the way the lawmakers push through the revision should be as justifiable and transparent as its content. His change of attitude appears to be a reflection of growing criticism against our lawmakers. The National Assembly’s Public Administration and Security Committee not only debated the contentious bill but also passed it behind closed doors. Lawmakers from the ruling Grand National Party also insist that the committee in question hand over the bill to the Political Reform Committee so that it can fully discuss the proposed revision.

Yet the lawmakers indicted for illegal fund-raising defended themselves in court.

Asked about the growing uproar over the legislators’ self-serving move, DP Rep. Kang Ki-jung said bluntly, “What’s wrong with our decision to amend a law that should have been revised a long time ago?” If his remarks are correct, he and other members of the public administration committee should have put the issue on the table three years ago when the new National Assembly convened.

We are wondering why the lawmakers seek to revise a law when they are accused of breaking it. The Liberty Forward Party’s Lee Myung-soo also said, “I don’t think the revised law will provide immunity to the lawmakers who are in trouble.”

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam said that it will be difficult for the prosecution to hold the violators accountable if the law is revised in their favor. Another GNP lawmaker, Ryu Jung-Hyun, said that the backlash against the revision was driven by the media, not the people. But it was the public outburst against the lawmakers’ greedy behavior that led the Blue House to hint at a presidential veto on the revision.

Defense lawyers claimed that their clients were not aware that the donations came from a private security-guards’ association. The prosecution, however, refuted the claim by arguing that the association informed the lawmakers’ aides of the source of the money. It’s hard to understand why lawmakers say they didn’t know where the money came from. If they really had not known, that’s an example of how lax their standards have become.

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