Getting to the bottom

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Getting to the bottom

The prosecution has finally launched an investigation into the massive vote-rigging scandal at the Unified Progressive Party in a primary for proportional representatives for the National Assembly ahead of the April 11 legislative election. But the party executives’ vehement resistance to prosecutors’ confiscation of relevant records can only be construed as a brazen negation of law enforcement authority. No matter whether you’re a conservative or liberal, everyone should abide by the law. The prosecution also should investigate the scandal carefully so as not to inflict undesired damage on the healthy activities of a political party.

The prosecution’s probe is needed to get to the bottom of the case considering that the results of a truth-finding committee led by Cho Joon-ho, a former co-chair of the UPP, were plainly insufficient. It couldn’t describe who committed the malpractices or how. The committee also came up with a half-baked conclusion that attributed the fiasco to a “vote management mistake” rather than “deliberate corruption,” without delving into the basic truth of the scandal. The mainstream faction of the party - including Lee Seok-gi, a proportional representative-elect who won the largest number of votes, and Lee Jung-hee, a former co-chair of the party - didn’t accept the results of investigation by the truth-finding committee and even claimed its conclusions were fabricated.

The corruption within the party, which received a whopping 26.3 billion won ($22.5 million) in government subsidies from 2002 through the first half of 2011, is a national issue which goes far beyond internal party strife. Thanks to the vote rigging, three out of the six proportional representatives-elect are to become lawmakers in less than two weeks. Voters are entitled to know who rigged the primary and their methods.

Given its status as the third-largest party with 13 legislators, the party must answer questions from voters. The emergency council led by Kang Ki-kab, however, is incapable of revealing the truth amid strong resistance from recalcitrant elements of the largest faction. Therefore, the scandal should be resolved through an investigation by prosecutors, and the party must cooperate.

The prosecution must also delve into the case as prudently as possible to minimize any unnecessary backlash because a lopsided investigation may infringe on party members’ privacy. If the prosecution focuses on the public security issue, considering the party’s pro-North Korea tradition, it will surely backfire.
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