Severing bad ties with the past

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Severing bad ties with the past

Park Geun-hye, the chairwoman of the emergency council of the ruling Saenuri Party, has proclaimed that she will head the party toward the direction of a complete departure from its wrongdoings of the past. The statement she made at a forum sponsored by the Korea Broadcasting Journalists Club yesterday may be a reflection of her strong resolution as interim leader of the party to exert all efforts to revamp the rotten political culture of the Saenuri Party - often a symbol of corruption and reckless adherence to conservative values - after changing the name of the party last month.

We welcome Park’s decision to carry out a genuine rebirth of the party and hope that the party can get rid of its bad image, which was consolidated during the days of the Grand National Party. Park’s emphasis on the significance of severing ties with its negative past stems from an urgent need to open an era of new politics befitting the new party name - which literally means “New Horizon.”

The problem is how to put the promise into action. Many voters will carefully watch what she does to reach that goal.

Unless the party wants to repeat the same mistakes, it must be renovated as a morally clean party. To do that, the party should strictly sort out ill-qualified candidates among aspirants for the April 11 legislative elections and reject any with moral drawbacks even if they are much more likely to win their election. Only when she demonstrates such an attitude in the nomination process can the party earn the real trust of the voters. If people cannot see any difference in the party’s choice of candidates, she will have to eat her own words.

Asked by reporters about her potential involvement in the Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation - where she long served as chairwoman of the board - Park said she has had nothing to do with it ever since her resignation in 2005, adding that the foundation needs to clarify the matter. No doubt she has stayed away from activities of the foundation since she left it. With her close friend, Philip Choi, working as chairman of the board, suspicions still linger. Just as she vowed to act properly on nominations, she must do the same with the foundation issue.

We urge her to replace the current leadership of the foundation with entirely neutral people. Of course, Park may complain about our suggestion, saying it is a far-fetched demand because she is not involved there any more. But it will be much better for her to act with respect for the people’s standards before it’s too late.
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