[EDITORIALS]Political treachery rules

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[EDITORIALS]Political treachery rules

The Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats were taken by surprise. The defection of Representative Jeon Yong-hak of the MDP and Lee One-ku of the ULD to the Grand National Party also shocked the Korean public. Mr. Lee's repeated migration to the political party in power -- from the GNP to the ULD and back to the GNP -- clearly showcases the treachery of Korean politics by which yesterday's foes become today's allies.

Mr. Jeon is not very different from his ULD counterpart in changing his coat. As a spokesman of the ruling MDP, Mr. Jeon argued that Lee Hoi-chang, the GNP's presidential candidate, must not become president, blasting him for playing "narrow-minded and tricky politics." He had sided with Representative Lee In-je in his failed bid for the MDP presidential candidacy, before supporting Representative Lee Han-dong, who recently announced that he would run for president in the December race. In October of last year, when Representatives Kim Yong-hwan and Kang Chang-hee of the ULD defected to the GNP, Mr. Jeon, the former ruling-party spokesman, bitterly branded the moves as "ugly betrayal and collusion." Now, he has pledged that he would take the lead in helping Lee Hoi-chang win the presidential race, in stark contrast to what he had said previously.

When some GNP lawmakers defected to the MDP in the early days of the Kim Dae-jung administration, the GNP blamed the ruling party for stealing GNP legislators in an attempt to "destroy the opposition party." Now, the GNP is leading political defections. Both of the most recent defections are by lawmakers from South Chungcheong province. The GNP may have accepted them in a bid to boost Lee Hoi-chang's popularity by strengthening the party's position in the Chungcheong region.

Mr. Jeon's departure was caused in part by the prolonged friction between an intra-party group in support of the party's presidential candidate, Roh Moo-hyun, and a faction against him. Chung Mong-joon, an independent lawmaker who has also announced his bid for president, said, "Betrayal is a big political evil." But he should realize his comment sounds disingenuous because many of his key aides are notorious political migrants. Politicians must be aware that the voters will punish their treachery.
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