Money doesn’t mix well with politicians

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Money doesn’t mix well with politicians

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Choi See-joong, former chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, who is now under investigation by prosecutors, used to mention “the rule of four Ps.” By instinct, people pursue “three Ps” - namely, position, pride and property - but when you are too greedy, you will end up in prison. Before a National Assembly hearing regarding his reappointment in March 2011, Choi explained this personal axiom, and at an internal meeting for the commission, he repeated it again.

However, knowing the wisdom and practicing it seem to be two separate issues. The prosecutors are investigating him on the allegation of unlawfully receiving bribes of several hundred million won. Choi also often cites the story of the “deer’s call” from Chinese classic poetry to his personal friends as well as his work colleagues. According to the tale, when a deer discovers a nice grass field, he doesn’t enjoy the grass by himself but calls his friends to share. He may have wanted to emphasize communication and friendship, but when Choi called his friends, only hyenas and jackals answered.

Any person with power may as well be teetering on the edge of a prison’s wall, ready to fall into its confines. Ichiro Ozawa had been the “kingmaker” in Japanese politics for over 20 years and was indicted for a violation of the law on political funds. But the former head of the Japanese Democratic Party was lucky and succeeded in landing on the outside of the prison, albeit through less-than-honorable means.

After he was indicted, he defended himself by distinguishing between a real offender and a nominal offender. Theoretically, a real offender has committed a crime that led to obvious damages such as a murder or arson. But a nominal offender does not create any actual damage as a result of his violation of the law. Nominal violations include breaking the speed limit in a field with no other cars. He claimed that he was not guilty as insufficient documentation of his fund transactions resulted in no damage to others.

The relationship between power and money has always been a controversial topic. We must not forget that while money may not have eyes, it has a very sensitive nose. It has an outstanding sense of smell which it uses to detect power. Along with the “rule of 4Ps,” Choi See-joong liked to emphasize having a clean, understanding and humble mind. But even the thousand-year-old Buddhist and Confucian teachings were not enough to guard him from corruption.

* The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
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