Watch out for groundless rumors

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Watch out for groundless rumors

The bombshell political bribery scandal triggered by evidence left by a businessman who committed suicide during the investigation into corruption and shady connections with former governments is one that could change the political landscape entirely. It can finally wipe out the old political ways - shady connections, payoffs, favoritism, and nepotism. The longstanding under-the-table deals and handouts between politicians and businessmen can finally be done away with.

That wont be possible, however, unless the case is thoroughly probed. The prosecution must be transparent as it investigates the list of political bigwigs named by Sung Wan-jong, former head of Keangnam Enterprises. The names themselves carry weight as they include the prime minister and key presidential aides. The people demand a full and independent investigative authority.

Due to its sensitive and scandalous nature, new versions of Sung Wan-jong’s list have popped up and confused the public. Politicians are adding to the mess by trying to deflect allegations about their camp onto their rivals. Rumors abound that there are many more names other than the eight listed by Sung in the memo found inside of his trousers. The old corruption scandal involving Park Yeon-cha, chairman of Taekwang Industrial, is also reemerging. The probe of Park, his connections with aides and the wife of former President Roh Moo-hyun was stopped halfway after the former president fatally jumped off a cliff in 2009. There are rumors that Woo Byung-woo, the presidential secretary for civil affairs who spearheaded the probe on Park, would dig up the old scandal involving former aides of Roh - who now make up the mainstream of the main opposition party.

Whether there is any truth to the rumors cannot be known. But from the developments in the prosecution’s investigation so far, they appear to be fictional. Prosecutors have unveiled the names on Sung’s memo and are primarily focusing on the eight political heavyweights that include two former presidential chiefs of staff and Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo. They have raided the office and home of Sung and collected testimony and evidence. Lee and South Gyeongnam Gov. Hong Joon-pyo will likely be the first to be questioned from the list.

Every scandal generates hit lists. Most of them turn out to be groundless and unproven. They only end up diverging investigators’ attention. Prosecutors should focus on the eight. After they are finished with them, they can move onto the others implicated over the course of the investigation.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 20, Page 30

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