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[ED] Inflated assets

Election authorities should make needed adjustments

In just the span of five months, 175 legislators who newly registered their wealth showed an aggregate increase of 170 billion won ($144.44 million) above what they filed as candidates in the April 15 election. To be more specific, 105 legislators led that increase; and 15 of them recorded increases of 1 billion won or more. Just three legislators in the top 3 rankings of declared assets accounted for 76 percent or 132.6 billion won of the total increase.

This whopping figure was made public by the civic group the Citizen's Coalition for Economic Justice, Monday. The coalition compared the wealth (as of late last December) reported by the then candidates to the National Election Commission with that (as of late May) reported to the National Assembly as newly elected legislators.

It's not that the representatives intentionally omitted their assets, which would amount to a fraudulent declaration, an election crime. A belated revision of the law and the jarringly different requirements for candidates and elected officials in reporting wealth produced the huge jump. A law governing public officials' ethics was revised this June and mandated market price listings of non-listed stocks held by lawmakers. Election candidates do not necessarily have to report the wealth of non-immediate family members unlike elected officials.

But there are a few legislators who belatedly submitted the increase, such as Rep. Cho Su-jin of the opposition People Power Party, and Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Kim Hong-gul, both of whom have offered up meager excuses such as negligence under time pressure or ignorance of immediate family members' property ownership.

Voters struggling in the hard times of the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic plight will not digest such irresponsible excuses. Constituents are entitled to know the full reach of candidates' qualifications and other information before casting their votes.

The lawmakers and the parties would do well to offer explanations regarding the increase in assets as urged by the civic group. The election authorities should seize upon the coalition's findings to amend the law so that voters have the right information.


Election authorities should make needed adjustments

In just the span of five months, 175 legislators who newly registered their wealth showed an aggregate increase of 170 billion won ($144.44 million) above what they filed as candidates in the April 15 election. To be more specific, 105 legislators led that increase; and 15 of them recorded increases of 1 billion won or more. Just three legislators in the top 3 rankings of declared assets accounted for 76 percent or 132.6 billion won of the total increase.

This whopping figure was made public by the civic group the Citizen's Coalition for Economic Justice, Monday. The coalition compared the wealth (as of late last December) reported by the then candidates to the National Election Commission with that (as of late May) reported to the National Assembly as newly elected legislators.

It's not that the representatives intentionally omitted their assets, which would amount to a fraudulent declaration, an election crime. A belated revision of the law and the jarringly different requirements for candidates and elected officials in reporting wealth produced the huge jump. A law governing public officials' ethics was revised this June and mandated market price listings of non-listed stocks held by lawmakers. Election candidates do not necessarily have to report the wealth of non-immediate family members unlike elected officials.

But there are a few legislators who belatedly submitted the increase, such as Rep. Cho Su-jin of the opposition People Power Party, and Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Kim Hong-gul, both of whom have offered up meager excuses such as negligence under time pressure or ignorance of immediate family members' property ownership.

Voters struggling in the hard times of the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic plight will not digest such irresponsible excuses. Constituents are entitled to know the full reach of candidates' qualifications and other information before casting their votes.

The lawmakers and the parties would do well to offer explanations regarding the increase in assets as urged by the civic group. The election authorities should seize upon the coalition's findings to amend the law so that voters have the right information.



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