A sad retreat from power, againIn the twilight of his presidency, Lee Myung-bak has seen a multitude of “moral delinquents” involved in corruption and abuse of power. When his close aides were arrested on charges of receiving bribes from power brokers, the first lady’s cousins were either imprisoned or mired in scandals. Lee’s elder brother, Lee Sang-deuk - the six-term lawmaker of the ruling Grand National Party - had to retire from politics disgracefully due to his aide’s corruption, while the president’s son came under fire for his suspicious purchase of a plot of land for Lee’s post-presidential residence. And Park Hee-tae, a member of Lee’s senior aide group, is suspected of distributing envelopes with money to GNP lawmakers to buy votes for his GNP chairmanship.
To make matters worse, Choi See-joong, chairman of the mighty Korea Communications Commission and Lee’s last political mentor, bitterly exited the stage last week amid seething controversy over one of his policy advisers’ involvement in a massive corruption case. Choi, who is from the same hometown as Lee and a close friend of Lee’s brother, has long been one of Lee’s closest political allies.
Choi enjoyed immense power in the Lee administration. His policy adviser is also in trouble for allegedly having taken advantage of his position for influence peddling for money. Choi failed to keep a close watch on the adviser, who managed to flee to a foreign country.
The Lee Myung-bak administration appears to have been running without pivotal moral standards given the way President Lee’s brother and his friends have exited from the political scene.
We can hardly find a precious few who tried to sacrifice themselves for Lee’s success as president. A majority of them, instead, strived to exploit their mighty posts for personal gain under Lee’s political patronage. If only one of Lee’s close aides had managed to demonstrate a modicum of modesty and thrift, the administration would not have suffered a moral breakdown as devastating as this.
Amid the suffocating moral breakdown among Lee’s senior allies, ordinary citizens would hardly find it strange for Lee’s junior aides to go to prison, yet lay the blame on another and hold the president accountable for their own fiascos.
We are witnessing a president’s hideous descent from power every five years, which presidential hopefuls, including Park Geun-hye, Ahn Cheol-soo and Moon Jae-in, must not forget.