Playing politics to the endCan our president be called a president? After listening to President Roh Moo-hyun’s speech at the forum held on Saturday to evaluate the participatory government, one cannot but harbor doubts. On that day, President Roh was not the president of Korea but the leader of a radical minority group. With only a few months left in office, there seems to be a clear reason the president is acting so recklessly.
The president is trying to provoke the opposition party at all costs and win back the advantage that has turned to the other side. He seems to be calculating a reenactment of the situation in 2004, when his impeachment trial worked favorably for his party. It is almost humiliating to even be commenting on his deliberate nonsense.
The president’s comments on Saturday were an infringement of Article 9 of the Public Elections Act, which stipulates that government officials should maintain political neutrality concerning elections. In 2004, even while dismissing the impeachment petition against President Roh, the Constitutional Court warned him explicitly of his election law infringements. “The president, as chief executive, has the duty to oversee and supervise the implementation of a fair election and as a public official, most certainly must uphold political neutrality in the election.” The Constitutional Court stated its decision at the time.
On Saturday, the president’s words were markedly aimed at discrediting particular presidential candidates. The president, without mincing words, declared that it was “horrible to think what would happen if the Grand National Party [won the election.]” How can we expect a president who calls a change of government by election “horrible” to uphold and protect our democratic Constitution and oversee implementation of a fair election?
The president may gather his supporters and pat himself on the back for all we care. However, when he starts to interfere in the election process, it is a different story. If he wants to intervene, let him register as an official party member and take official channels.
When he was sworn into office, the president took an oath to uphold the Constitution. When he was criticized for not acting strongly enough against the North Korean missile tests, the president declared that “trust was built upon temperance.” How is it that he does not exercise this same temperance with the opposition party, which he is supposed to embrace as the chief of state?
The Grand National Party has announced that it will review the possibility of filing a suit against the president for failing in his duty to maintain political neutrality and for initiating political campaigning before the campaign period. However, this is exactly what President Roh is hoping for.
Let the president talk all he wants. Let’s hear what he has to say and dismiss any nonsensical statements he makes. Let’s not fall for his shallow tactic of inducing a second impeachment with the ultimate objective of gaining sympathy votes.
This is the responsibility we must bear for having elected him as president.