Lee must tell the truthGyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Party (DP), appears at the National Assembly’s audit of the Gyeonggi provincial government Monday. Members of the Public Administration and Security Committee will ask pointed questions about his potential involvement in the highly controversial land development project in Seongnam City when he was mayor. Ahead of the grilling, the standoff between the DP and main opposition People Power Party (PPP) is getting tense. After Gov. Lee said he was the “designer” of the development project, the PPP is trying to prove that he was the mastermind of the project — and its corrupt profits. Yoo Dong-gyu, one of Lee’s close aides and a former acting president of the Seongnam Development Corporation, was already arrested for suspicions of bribery. Meanwhile, the DP leadership vowed to turn Lee’s appearance at the legislature into a chance to prove his administrative ability and integrity.
The rivalry between the two parties has spiked concerns about Lee’s appearance ending up as a war of words signifying nothing. But the development scandal is showing no signs of going away as it involved huge profits for a precious few linked to the presidential candidate of the DP. The scandal also has stretched its tentacles to a son of an opposition lawmaker, a former Supreme Court justice and a former top prosecutor.
Above all, Gov. Lee must tell the truth. He volunteered to appear at the legislature after he was elected the presidential candidate for his party. He must clear all suspicions about his relations with Yoo and Kim Man-bae, a major shareholder of Hwacheon Daeyu, an asset management company at the center of the scandal, and other suspicions about him having granted special favors to developers. Lee also must answer who the “him” in a transcript exposed by a stakeholder really refers to. As Lee allegedly signed documents on the project on ten occasions when he was mayor, the scandal has crossed a point of no return.
The legislative audit, which will be broadcast live, can offer an opportunity for Lee to explain the facts. Instead of resorting to his signature counterattacks, he must candidly answer questions from lawmakers. As lawyer Nam Wook, another stakeholder in the project, is to return to Seoul from the U.S. today, politicians and prosecutors must get to the bottom of the case before it is too late.
We urge lawmakers to focus on finding the truth instead of engaging in a pointless war of words. They know too well that any suspicion over corruption was eventually cleared by the appointment of a special prosecutor in the past if they continue fighting among themselves.