Respect the peopleThis government is threatening to ruin its chances for a fair presidential election by exercising prejudice in favor of a certain political party. The government claims its actions are normal but it’s clear that the Roh administration is trying to intervene in the election.
The government’s pressure is focused on Lee Myung-bak, who is leading in the polls. The police raided the Seoul Development Council and Sejong University last Saturday. The raid followed a call to the National Election Commission for an investigation, after claims of election law violation because a public agency had studied the feasibility of a Seoul-Busan canal, one of Lee’s election pledges. Just a few days ago, prosecutors also raided the offices of a private hiking club whose members support Lee.
In March, prosecutors investigated Lee’s publishing company on charges of breaking the election law.
All three of these cases followed the same pattern ― the election watchdog first claims a violation and the authorities quickly follow up with an investigation. Anyone who breaks the law ought to be investigated. Presidential candidates, whether they are leading in the polls or not, cannot be excused. The problem, however, is that state power is being exercised for political convenience.
The president had already tried to disadvantage a certain candidate several times. But the election watchdog did not act. If the National Election Commission knew that the president’s intention was to oppose a specific candidate when the government studied the feasibility of his pledge to build a grand canal, it should have issued a warning. But it did not seem to care that much. The president compromised the neutrality of public servants by ordering them to study the feasibility of pledges made by opposition candidates. But the election watchdog stayed silent.
The watchdog is only quick to react to what the opposition candidates do. Such strange circumstances only make us think that there must be a shadow of authority lurking behind the scenes. The shadow must be the president’s obsessive desire to never turn the administration over to the Grand National Party.
In 1997, the administration tampered with a false accusation to stop an opponent from being elected. But the wind still blew unfavorably for the then-president.
The public knows when a president’s intentions are impure. President Roh Moo-hyun and his confidantes should learn to have some respect for the people.