Park offers apology for nomination scandal

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Park offers apology for nomination scandal


Park Geun-hye, the presidential front-runner of the ruling Saenuri Party, yesterday offered her apology over the money-for-nomination scandal that allegedly took place during her emergency oversight of the party.

“The party is examining the legitimacy of the scandal,” Park said yesterday in front of 300 young voters in Sangam-dong, western Seoul.

“Although the result has not come out yet, I still feel very sorry to the nation that such allegations have appeared.”

Park was the emergency chairwoman of the conservative ruling party when the nominations were made before the April legislative elections.

On Thursday, the National Election Commission requested the prosecutors open up an investigation into the suspicion that a member of the party’s nomination committee had received 300 million won ($265,000) from Representative Hyun Young-hee of the Saenuri Party in return for her proportional representation nomination. Hyun Ki-hwan, deputy head of the party’s think tank Yeouido Institute and a Park loyalist, was accused of receiving the money.

Park’s remarks came as her rivals in the Saenuri presidential primary demanded her to give up her candidacy over the scandal.

Three candidates - Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo, former South Gyeongsang governor Kim Tae-ho and former presidential chief of staff Yim Tae-hee - yesterday held a press conference to pressure Park.

They threatened to boycott the primary and said they will only return to the process if Park promises to withdraw her bid when the probe found the allegations to be true.

They demanded Hwang Woo-yea, the party chairman, resign from his post.

They also demanded that the party form a special truth-finding committee to lay bare the facts.

At the proposal of Hwang, a meeting took place yesterday to discuss the fate of the primary.

Starting today, the candidates agreed to normalize the primary and go ahead with it as scheduled.

They also agreed that if the probe finds the allegations to be true, Hwang will resign from his position.

All five candidates, including Park and former Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo, joined the talks. Kim Soo-han, head of the primary committee, and Hwang also came.

As the ruling party struggles to save the presidential primary from the scandal, the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday they will summon the people involved in the scandal, including Representative Hyun, this week.

“We have additionally assigned two prosecutors and five investigators to the case,” said Lee Tae-seung, a senior prosecutor.

On Saturday, the prosecution raided the office of Hyun’s husband’s company where she allegedly handed over a shopping bag stuffed with the 300 million won to her 37-year-old secretary surnamed Jung.

The prosecutors also seized CCTV footage showing her withdrawing a large sum of money from a bank and loading it into her car after putting the money in the same bag she gave to her secretary as evidence.

Jung was the informant who told the National Election Commission about the bribe. When the scandal broke last week, Representative Hyun denied the charges.

By Kwon Sang-soo, Heo Jin []
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