admin 2019-4-29 313

The apparent suicide of Roh Moo-hyun, South Korea's president until last year, is a tragedy not only for his own country but for the entire region. Roh is thought to have killed himself because of a probe into allegations that his family took some $6m in bribes. The accusations had already sullied the reputation of the former human rights lawyer as a clean alternative to South Korea's murky political culture. Of Roh's four predecessors, two were jailed for corruption and sons of the other two imprisoned on similar counts.

去年还是韩国总统的卢武铉(Roh Moo-hyun)自杀身亡,这不仅对他的国家、而且对整个亚太地区来说都是一个悲剧。卢武铉自尽,被认为是因为官方正在调查有关他的家人收受大约600万美元贿赂的指控。这些指控已经玷污了这位打着廉洁旗号上台、承诺与韩国黑暗的政治文化划清界线的前人权律师的声誉。在卢武铉的四名前任中,两人因腐败入狱,另外两人的儿子因类似罪名而入狱。

Nor was Roh the only former Asian leader under a cloud. In Taiwan which, like South Korea, made a remarkable transition from authoritarian state to lively democracy, former president Chen Shui-bian faces embezzlement and other corruption charges. His wife and son have admitted to some offences. In Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, the populist former prime minister ousted in a 2006 coup, has been tried in absentia of breaching conflict of interest laws and sentenced to two years in jail.

卢武铉也不是唯一蒙上阴影的亚洲前任领导人。与韩国一样,台湾也从威权政体成功地转型为活跃的民主政体。在台湾,前总统陈水扁正面对侵吞公款和其它腐败指控。他的妻子和儿子已承认部分控罪。在泰国,在2006年一次政变中被赶下台的民粹主义前总理他信·西那瓦( Thaksin Shinawatra),因违反利益冲突法而遭到缺席审判,并被判处两年监禁。

The details of these cases are different. So, too, may be the merits. But there is a common thread. Laws are not sufficiently strong or properly enforced to convince the public that their political leaders are above suspicion. The presumption seems to be that they are on the take. The corollary is that, when the law is applied, many assume the process is politically motivated.


So it is in Taiwan where, despite seemingly strong circumstantial evidence against Mr Chen, many see his trial as political revenge by his more conservative successor. So it is, too, in South Korea, where the administration of Lee Myung-bak, the current president, is accused by opponents of unleashing the prosecutorial hounddogs to maul his predecessor's reputation. In Thailand, there is reasonable evidence that the law has, indeed, been applied more severely against Mr Thaksin's red-shirted followers than against supporters of the current administration.

于是,在台湾,尽管有强大的旁证对陈水扁不利,但在许多人看来,对他的审判,是他更为保守的继任者的一种政治报复。同样,在韩国,反对者指控,现任总统李明博(Lee Myung-bak)政府借用检察部门来损害前任的声誉。而在泰国,的确有合理的证据表明,针对他信的“红衫军”支持者的执法力度,比针对现政府支持者的执法更为严厉。

Regional democracies, where they exist, are too fragile to be knocked about like this. The danger in South Korea, where left and right have been at loggerheads for years, is that society could become almost irreconcilably divided. That would compound the tragedy of Roh's death. Instead of letting that happen, South Korea should promote legal reform to convince the public that no one, not even the president, stands above the law. That way, if future leaders are investigated or charged, it will be obvious to all that the judicial process, and not the political one, is at work.



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