Park is off and running for 2012 president race

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Park is off and running for 2012 president race

Political analysts and even some Grand National Party lawmakers loyal to the former party chairwoman, Park Geun-hye, say they are surprised at how speedily and meticulously she is preparing for the 2012 presidential election.

Park on Monday opened a think tank, tentatively named the National Future Institute, 24 months ahead of the 2012 presidential election. The institute consists of 78 Park supporters in the fields of economics, politics, diplomacy, defense, culture, welfare and media. Some of them were part of Park’s 2007 campaign team.

That year, Park kicked off her presidential campaign in January, giving her only eight months before the party’s presidential primary, which she lost to Lee Myung-bak, who would later go on to win the election. Her slow start was later criticized by Lee supporters.

They also attacked her weak election pledges on regarding economic development and said she didn’t devote enough time to come up with policies to lead a country.

In contrast, Lee, former Hyundai Construction CEO, created a think tank called the Anguk Forum in June 2006, immediately after his term as Seoul mayor ended. The Anguk Forum functioned as Lee’s pre-campaign group and many members received major posts in his administration, including Lee Jae-oh, the incumbent minister without portfolio.

Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and GNP Representative Chung Mong-joon, all of whom are considered potential GNP presidential aspirants in 2012, refrained from commenting on Park’s moves, but said it was too early to follow Park’s move by setting up their own think tanks.

GNP Representative Cha Myeong-jin, a close adviser to Gyeonggi Governor Kim, said there are already quality research institutes within the GNP and it wasn’t desirable to follow Park’s moves.

“The experience of a candidate is the most important factor [in an election],” Cha said in a phone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

A close aide of Chung said: “There’s no need to establish a campaign camp,” because the GNP primary is 18 months away.

Though Kim and Oh don’t have official advisory organizations like Park’s National Future Institute, political observers say they have enough supporters to create them. Kim appointed his aides to top positions at the Gyeonggi Provincial Government’s affiliated agencies. Oh appointed young and reform-minded supporters to major posts at the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Chung Mong-joon, former GNP chairman and another possible candidate, already runs two think tanks - the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and the Haemil Research Institute. Han Sung-joo, former foreign minister and former ambassador to the United States runs the Asan institute. Though minister without portfolio Lee Jae-oh hasn’t expressed an intention to run, he is regarded as the most influential power in the GNP.


By Kim Mi-ju, Jung Hyo-sik [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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