[EDITORIALS]Time for housecleaningThere is something not right about Choe Byung-yul, the chairman of the Grand National Party, saying that the roots of the party’s crisis lie in the illegal political funds controversy. Therefore, he said, Lee Hoi-chang, the former party leader, is responsible. Mr. Choe then told the Kwanhun Club of senior Korean journalists that he was breaking off his ties with Mr. Lee.
Mr. Choe’s remarks are a thinly-veiled attempt to gloss over the heart of the difficulties looming over the Grand National Party. Other party members demand that the leader come up with a drastic self-sacrifice to buoy support for the party. Why should Mr. Lee take all the blame for raising illegal campaign funds?
Mr. Choe himself is also liable for some sort of responsibility because he, as the senior party official during the 2002 presidential campaign, campaigned on behalf of Mr. Lee. It is not appropriate for a political leader to call a specific person to account, especially a former colleague, just because the situation has become tense.
Chairman Choe is the leader of the opposition, a majority in the National Assembly. If he had not noticed that his personal popularity lags behind that of his party, he needs to humble himself and demonstrate a willingness to become the first to take his lumps.
He cannot ignore the criticism leveled at him; the party’s crisis stems from Mr. Choe’s lack of leadership. He must understand that the crisis in the party stems from its failure to create a forward-looking identy.
Mr. Lee’s cowardly behavior is not helping the Grand National Party, either. Last year, he said the responsibility for the funding scandal was his, and he would go to jail if he had to. But since then, as others go to jail and estimates of the amounts involved snowball, Mr. Lee has fallen silent.
It is not right to watch with folded arms as his subordinates go to jail in droves. Although it is late, Mr. Lee must tell the truth about illegal campaign funds, clarify what role he played in gathering them and find ways to make amends for his wrongdoing. In that way, he would not further disappoint 11,400,000 voters who cast their ballots for him and the party that nominated him as its presidential candidate.