Saenuri expels Hyun for nomination scandalThe Saenuri Party yesterday expelled a former nomination committee member for having disgraced the party with a money-for-nomination scandal in a step to remove obstacles for its presidential campaign.
The conservative ruling party’s Supreme Council unanimously approved the expulsion of Hyun Ki-hwan, a former lawmaker who was on the nomination committee for the April legislative elections, said Representative Hong Il-pyo, spokesman for the Saenuri Party.
Hyun was accused of receiving money from a candidate in return for giving her a proportional representation nomination, although he has denied the charge.
The leadership also approved a motion to expel Representative Hyun Young-hee over the allegation that she had paid Hyun money for the nomination. Because she is a sitting lawmaker, her expulsion requires a two-thirds vote by the Saenuri Party’s lawmakers.
A lawmakers’ assembly will likely be scheduled for today to approve Representative Hyun’s expulsion. It remains to be seen if she will be stripped of the party’s membership as she also denied the charge.
The move to expel the key suspects in the money-for-nomination scandal came days before the Saenuri Party’s schedule to finalize its presidential candidate. The party’s primary will wrap up on Sunday and the final announcement of the winner will be announced on Monday.
From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, 200,000 electoral colleges of the party’s primary will cast ballots at 251 polling stations nationwide. The electoral colleges consist 50 percent of Saenuri members and 30 percent non-party members. A public opinion poll outcome will count an additional 20 percent to decide the winner.
On Monday, the party will host a convention in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, to count the ballots and announce the presidential candidate.
Political observers and Park Geun-hye campaign officials forecast that the presidential front-runner would record about 70 percent of the support in the primary.
Concerns have grown inside the Saenuri Party that the scandal would affect the campaign of Park. The scandal took place when the party was under her emergency leadership and one of her key reform projects was a transparent and corruption-free nomination process.
In an apparent move to stop the growing fallout, the party leadership moved unusually quickly to remove the scandalous members, taking just 17 days to act. The National Election Commission asked the prosecution to launch a probe into the nomination-buying allegation on July 30, and the party’s ethics committee already decided last week to expel the two even before the probe was concluded.
The Saenuri Party’s presidential contenders had a joint stumping in Incheon yesterday and Park once again stressed her effort of political reform.
“I will not tolerate any sanctuary and privilege,” Park said. “No one will be an exception when we deal with a corruption scandal. Abuse of power will be punished even more strongly.”
Speculations were also high that she will be forced to issue an apology about the scandal, since it took place under her oversight. Kim Chong-in, a chief campaign manager for Park, told the CBS radio yesterday that “it would be inevitable for Park to issue some kind of an apology to the public,” because she was responsible for creating the nomination committee.
By Ser Myo-ja [email@example.com]