[EDITORIALS]Reform party, reform thyself

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[EDITORIALS]Reform party, reform thyself

Park Sang-cheon, supreme council member of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, has complained that the party's election last month was "even more corruption-ridden than the one held in 2000." The party convention and election that year were dubbed "the money-dominated convention." It even was rumored that "the wives of candidates paid restaurant bills and distributed money on the pretext of transportation expenses."

Mr. Park refrained from mentioning details of violations for fear of being prosecuted. But allegations that the head of a local party branch accepted 10 million won ($7,800) and distributed soft drink bottles containing 50,000 won suggest the degree of corruption in the election. Lee Kyu-jeong, a former lawmaker who failed in the election, complained that the voting outcomes reflected "the amount of money spent."

Mr. Park raised the issue at the supreme council meeting, saying, "When party elections become corrupt, candidates must raise large amounts of money for elections. Without tackling this issue head-on, expecting to achieve political reform is like waiting for the Yellow River to become clear."

But the party gives a cold shoulder to Mr. Park. Not many support his accusations; rather they blame him for raising the issue belatedly. The party that took "reform" as its motto and affixed "millennium" to its name to signify the will to reform is no longer the same. Hahn Hwa-kap, the party chairman, retorted to Mr. Park's accusation that "not one complaint of violation was reported to the party's election committee."

We can see that the chain of corruption scandals involving ruling party leaders is not coincidental. Now that news of scandals involving President Kim's family members decorates media headlines, the dark side of party politics is being overlooked. For the development of politics, it should be straightened out. At least, the party should reflect on the shortcomings of its internal elections and try to correct them.

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