Iceland PM woes an ad for Panama Papers

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-7 0:43:02

The leak of the Panama Papers has continued to make headlines. Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned Tuesday, leaving a strong impression that the documents would impact the politics of several European countries. Yet the reality may not be so.

Iceland is a small country with only some 300,000 people. Gunnlaugsson's wife is among the wealthiest in the country. The resignation may mean little to Gunnlaugsson since he will remain head of the Progressive Party, and continue to be rich. Perhaps he will resume the position some time in the future.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, also among the leaks, is a business tycoon. Whether his business empire has truly been involved in tax fraud might not be tightly pursued by the moral standards of Ukraine. Poroshenko has denied any wrongdoing, so he could easily escape censure.

The father of British Prime Minister David Cameron was disclosed as a director of an offshore company. In his response, Cameron denied having any illegal assets. Public opinion can do nothing about him.

In countries that run under the Western system, the politics-business relationship has been largely legalized, including deals in the gray zone. Rich people can protect and maximize their business interests by engaging in politics, and turn political resources into individual influences that have commercial value. Since politics and the media are both under the control of capital, the supervision of the capital is a mere formality.

The Panama Papers' impact on non-Western countries is worth pondering. For example, the Papers accused a close friend of Putin of money laundering. As Western public opinion focused attention on Putin, the accusation sounds true even though the connection is unconvincing. The damage would be more real compared to that on Cameron. 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists examining the Panama Papers was launched as a project of the Center for Public Integrity whose independence has been questioned. Very few US public figures were exposed by the Panama Papers, which may be related to the political awareness of the forces behind the leak.

More importantly, whether the journalists investigating the Panama Papers include those serving the US intelligence agencies as fake reporters is a  question. The larger the amount of documents, the more room will be available for intelligence manipulation and the more destructive the fabricated documents will be. Global information has inherent Western political elements. In the Internet era, the US is very capable of fighting the war of public opinion. Though it cannot be asserted that most documents of Panama Papers are false, examining the Panama Papers with prudence is of vital necessity.

Posted in: Editorial

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