Try a little truthfulness

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Try a little truthfulness

Political fights between the ruling Saenuri Party
and opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy
are getting heated over the two special pardons
for Sung Wan-jong, former chairman of Keangnam
Enterprises who committed suicide after leaving
behind a note detailing the names of bigwigs who
allegedly took bribes from him. The second pardon
on Dec. 31, 2007, in particular, draws our strong
interest because his pardon was determined at a
Blue House meeting between outgoing President
Roh Moo-hyun and President-elect Lee Myung-bak
despite then-Minister of Justice Chung Soung-jin’s
repeated opposition of the pardon. The second pardon
was also approved only a month after Sung was
There are rumors that behind the special pardon
were the so-called brother channels — a potential
collusion between Roh Geon-pyeong, President
Roh’s older brother, and Lee Sang-deuk, President
Lee’s elder brother and former vice speaker of the
National Assembly.
Both brothers flatly deny the accusation. Nevertheless,
the controversy is flaring up. While the pro-
Lee Myung-bak group contends that the pardon
was initiated by Roh and his aides, the pro-Roh
camp insists the decision to grant him a special pardon
was influenced by Lee and his aides. The Saenuri
Party is pressuring Moon Jae-in — who was
Roh’s chief of staff at the time and is current chairman
of the opposition — to tell the truth behind the
pardon, saying the ruling party has “indisputable
evidence that President Roh and his aides led campaigns
to clear Sung of corruption charges.” Moon
vehemently denies that by saying, “Such an offensive
is nothing but an attempt to dilute the culpability
of the ruling party.” Both parties are engaged in
a heated political mud fight after shying away from
their moral obligation to clear all suspicions about
the mysterious special pardon.
It is not usual for a businessman to receive special
pardons twice in the same administration. Even
if granting pardons falls under presidential jurisdiction,
it is natural for the public to harbor suspicions
on who was involved and if any illegal lobbying
took place in the process.
The most important thing now is to find the
truth behind the accusations that he gave hefty
amounts of bribes to core members of the Park Geun-
hye administration. We understand the opposition’s
strong outrage and its argument that the ruling
party only seeks to divert people’s attention. But
once suspicions have arisen, the truth must be told.
Instead of wasting time launching another legislative
probe or appointing a special prosecutor — both
remote possibilities — parties directly or indirectly
involved in his pardons must step forward. That’s
the easiest way to reveal the truth behind the eight
politicians whose names appear on Sung’s note,
including our former prime minister and current
presidential chief of staff.
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