Park Geun-hye picks campaign staff

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Park Geun-hye picks campaign staff

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From left: Ahn Dae-hee, Kim Chong-in, Lee Ju-young, Kim Byoung-ho and Choi Kyung-hwan


In a move to highlight Park Geun-hye’s key pledges of “political reform” and “economic democratization,” the ruling party yesterday named Ahn Dae-hee, a former prosecutor who had investigated its election fund scandal, and Kim Chong-in, a reformist economic official, as the top brains for her presidential campaign.

The Saenuri Party said yesterday that Ahn, a 57-year-old former Supreme Court justice, was named the head of the campaign’s political reform special committee. Kim, 72-year-old former senior economic affairs secretary of the Roh Tae-woo Blue House, was also named the head of the special committee on the people’s happiness.

Representative Lee Ju-young, a four-term lawmaker of the Saenuri Party, was named the chief planner of the presidential campaign. Former lawmaker Kim Byoung-ho was appointed as the chief public affairs manager.

Representative Choi Kyung-hwan, a three-term lawmaker who headed Park’s primary campaign, was appointed as her chief of staff.

“We recruited the people with the best expertise from inside and outside the party,” said the party’s secretary general, Suh Byung-soo. “We tried to invite reformists to head the special committees and we will open up more posts in the campaign to women.”

With a mission to come up with pledges to eradicate corruption from the political arenas and presidential relatives and associates, the special political reform committee will be headed by Ahn, a symbol of anti-corruption.

Ahn, who passed the bar exam in 1975 with late-President Roh Moo-hyun, Ahn was appointed to the head of the central investigation unit of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office in 2003 during the Roh administration. At the time, he supervised the investigation into the illegal presidential campaign fund scandal of the Grand National Party, the predecessor of the Saenuri Party.

In 2003, Ahn also investigated the illegal campaign funds of Roh and indicted key associates of the president in the first year of his presidency, earning the nickname the “people’s prosecutor.”

The probe revealed that the conglomerates had provided truckloads of cash to the GNP’s candidate Lee Hoi-chang on the eve of the 2002 presidential election. Park, then, assumed the emergency leadership of the party and pushed forward strong reform measures, winning 121 seats in the legislative elections in 2004.

In 2006, Ahn was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice and retired from the post in July. He was scheduled to take a fellowship at Stanford University from September until June next year, but he postponed the plan after Park made numerous appeals, Suh said.

“Ahn will break away from the old political traditions and present a new vision to the people,” Suh said.

Ahn’s recruitment is a clear indication of Park’s determination to fight corruption and power abuse by the nation’s political elites. It also shows her commitment to win the hearts of the voters who have shown disappointment at business-as-usual politics.

Park has promised to create special inspector and independent counsel systems to root out corruption involving the people around the president, and Ahn’s committee will work on the plan.

Other measures such as nomination reform plans and punitive sentencing for crimes committed by top public servants and politicians are also expected to be created.

“Politicians’ corruption and power abuses are repeated all the time,” Ahn said yesterday. “And the reality disappoints the public. Concerns are also high about unlawful elections. I will work on pledges to root them out.”

“When I met Park, I could feel her genuine love for the country and determination to keep her promises,” Ahn said. “So I decided to help her make a clean Korea by accepting this post.”

The special committee on the people’s happiness will be led by Kim, an architect of the “economic democratization” concept. Kim, a former four-term lawmaker and economic affairs mentor to Park, personally drafted the clause in the Constitution to include the concept during the 1987 amendment.

“The state may regulate and coordinate economic affairs in order to maintain the balanced growth and stability of the national economy, to ensure proper distribution of income, to prevent the domination of the market and the abuse of economic power, and to democratize the economy through harmony among the economic agents,” Clause 2, Article 119 of the Constitution states.

Kim also served on Park’s primary campaign and the emergency leadership of the Saenuri Party.

He was credited with presenting the “economic democratization” pledges, which have long been dominated by the liberals, as the conservative ruling party’s pledges to contribute to the Saenuri Party’s victory in the April 11 legislative elections.

By serving in Park’s presidential campaign, Kim is expected to make specific road maps to realize her pledges of economic democratization, job creation and welfare.

Park presented the three themes as the key challenges to achieve the people’s happiness.

Park also showed her strong intention to fight against negative campaigning of the opposition by creating a public affairs team that she will directly supervise. Kim, who will head the team, is a former veteran broadcast journalist who served two legislative terms. He also worked on Park’s presidential primary campaign in 2007.

Representative Lee, who will head Park’s campaign planning, is a centrist. While speculations were high that Park’s campaign chief planner will be a key Park loyalist, Lee’s appointment indicated Park’s intention to highlight efforts to end factional favoritism.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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