Feet to the fireLee Hoi-chang is likely to announce soon that he will run for president. He seems to have made up his mind, judging from his words and behavior. He neither admits nor denies rumors of a run. Lee Hoi-chang said the Grand National Party and its candidate, Lee Myung-bak, are opportunistic and afraid of voters who favor reconciliation with North Korea. He cannot say things like that unless he is ready to leave the party. If he still had any affection for the GNP or wanted to see its candidate win the election, he would be giving advice instead of harsh condemnation.
It is Lee Hoi-chang’s decision whether he runs in the presidential election. Every Korean citizen has political freedom. But he is the one who changed the New Korea Party into the Grand National Party in 1997 when there was a presidential election. He ran for the presidency twice as the Grand National Party’s candidate and is still a member of the party.
If he was displeased with Lee Myung-bak and the party, he should have run in the party primary so his political positions could be evaluated. To leave the party and run as an independent candidate, when the election is some 40 days away, is an opportunistic move. This is totally different from his former stance that emphasized the law and principles.
Lee Hoi-chang and his people maintain that conservatives need another candidate in case something happens to Lee Myung-bak and he cannot complete the campaign. It could sound as if they want something bad to happen to Lee Myung-bak. It is wrong to tempt misfortune to find somebody, particularly when Lee Hoi-chang has been known as a man of integrity.
Lee Myung-bak shares part of the responsibility for this. After the party primary was over, he did not embrace Park Geun-hye, his rival in the primary, or Lee Hoi-chang, a senior member of the party. It was probably because Lee Myung-bak’s aides did not advise him to do so. Senior members of the party said, “There are some forces inside the party who do not accept Lee Myung-bak as the candidate yet, but we will do something about it.”
They also said, “If Lee Hoi-chang runs for election, he must clear up suspicions about his funds in the 2002 presidential election.”
Such harsh words hinder reconciliation within the party. Lee Myung-bak should have consoled Park Geun-hye and Lee Hoi-chang, who was defeated twice in presidential elections due to negative campaigns by rival camps. The person who aspires to become president must be capable of bringing about reconciliation and unity. Lee Myung-bak must bear this in mind.
Anyone can run for election, but if Lee Hoi-chang decides to do so, he will be criticized for a lack of principles.
To watch the behavior of both Lees closely and evaluate them carefully are the jobs of the people.