A call for fair nominations

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A call for fair nominations

The ruling and opposition parties took the lead in attacking the Park Geun-hye administration during the Sewol ferry disaster. They lambasted it for its lethargic response to the tragedy, the irresponsibility of bureaucrats, the immorality of Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the ferry, and the captain and crew of the ship in the face of the calamity. However, we wonder if they really deserve to criticize all of them.

Our political parties are infamous for backward party nominations. Whenever the Blue House has trouble appointing high-profile officials, they batter the presidential office. When it comes to personnel affairs, however, they are even worse than the administration: They don’t have any principles, order or responsibility. Both camps’ lack of firm nomination systems invites power intervention. The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy picked a close aide to Ahn Cheol-soo, co-chair of the party, as the party’s candidate for a district in Gwangju - the opposition’s home turf - without a nomination race in the June 4 local elections.

Ahead of the July 30 by-elections, the largest ever, both parties’ leaders are bent on top-down nominations, as many are determined by the leaders’ decisions. The ruling Saenuri Party excluded Yim Tae-hee, former President Lee Myung-bak’s chief of staff, from the nomination race for Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, citing his lack of regional ties, despite a strong need to develop the city. But the party leadership nominated him for a district in Suwon, Gyeonggi. Does that mean Pyeongtaek needs a regional representative but Suwon does not?

Given his lack of regional connections, lawmaker Suh Chung-won, the former chairman of the Grand National Party, the predecessor of the Saenuri Party, might also not have been nominated for a legislative seat representing Hwaseong, Gyeonggi. He won in the Oct. 30, 2013 by-election. The ruling party has again rolled up its sleeves to nominate former Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo for the Dongjak-B district in southern Seoul in the July 30 by-elections without holding a nomination race.

The NPAD is no exception. The party nominated Ki Dong-min, former Seoul deputy mayor for political affairs and a confidant to Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, for Dongjak-B district, Seoul, without a nomination race. Needless to say, nominations are essential for political reform. Without a firm system established, incumbent lawmakers or aspiring politicians have to first read their leaders’ minds. This is deplorable at a time when the nation needs a revamp.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 7, Page 34

Correction and rebuttal statement by the Evangelical Baptist Church

The Korea JoongAng Daily, regarding the reports since April 16, 2014, about the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) and Yoo Byung-eun, is publishing the following corrections and an excerpt from the rebuttal statement by the EBC.


Through three past investigations by the prosecution, it has been revealed that Yoo and the EBC, also known as the “Salvation Group” and Guwonpa in Korean, are not related to the Odaeyang mass suicide incident. That was also confirmed by the prosecution in its official statement on May 21. The prosecution’s investigation also found that Yoo had not made an attempt to smuggle himself out of the country or seek political asylum in France. We, therefore, correct the concerned reports.

Yoo retired from his executive management position in 1997. He did not own any shares in the noted companies, nor had he managed operations or used the operating funds for personal reasons. There are no grounds to call him the actual owner and chairman of the company. As such, he did not provide any directives in regards to the overloading of the Sewol ferry or its renovation.

It was verified that the captain and crew members who abandoned ship at the time of the Sewol ferry accident are not members of the EBC. It has also been verified that the EBC does not own any shares of Chonghaejin Marine Company and did not engage in its management.

Rebuttal statement

The EBC’s position is that the museums in the United States and Europe can never authorize an exhibition unless the artistic value of an artist’s works is recognized by the screening committee, irrespective of the amount of money an artist donates. The EBC’s position is that the exhibitions were not a result of Mr. Yoo’s patronage or donation, and Yoo also has not coerced Chonghaejin and its affiliates to purchase his photos.

The EBC states that Yoo did not participate in the foundation of the EBC in 1981, and the church does not offer him the title “pastor.” It also says a significant part of the 240 billion won ($206 million) worth of assets suspected of belonging to the Yoo family are real estate properties owned by the farming associations, which had been established by church members.

The EBC states that there are certain churches in Korea that call the EBC a cult, solely based on differences between their’s and the EBC’s doctrines.

But the EBC does not worship a particular individual as a religious sect leader or preach any doctrine that contradicts the Bible.

여야 정당은 세월호 참사 때 선두에 나서 정부와 사회를 질타했다. 정부의 부실 대응, ‘관피아’의 무책임, 유병언 그룹의 비도덕성, 선장·선원의 비극적인 이기주의를 규탄했다. 지금도 세월호·인사 청문회에서 의원들은 목소리를 높인다. 그런데 정당을 들여다보면 과연 그들이 비판을 할 자격이 있는지 의심스럽다.
한국 정당의 후진성은 여러 가지인데 대표적인 게 공천이다. 정치권은 ‘인사가 만사’라며 청와대를 난타한다. 그런데 정작 자신들의 인사에선 정부보다 훨씬 못하다. 원칙도, 질서도, 책임감도 없다. 여야 모두 확립된 제도가 없으니 권력이 개입하고 이해관계에 따라 공천이 춤을 춘다. 후진적 공천은 수십 년 된 고질인데 지난 6·4 지방선거에서 극에 달했다. 아무런 준비 없이 경선을 약속하고는 여론조사라는 편법을 마구 동원했다. 새정치를 한다며 창당된 야당에서는 노른자위인 광주에 경선 없이 안철수 사람을 심어버리기도 했다.
이번 7·30 보궐선거에서는 여야 지도부가 아예 대놓고 주먹구구식 하향식 공천을 감행하고 있다. 경선은 일부만 있을 뿐 핵심 지역은 모두 지도부의 권력관계에 따라 결정된다. 가장 심각한 건 명분이 없다는 것이다. 새누리당은 평택에서 이명박 대통령의 비서실장을 지낸 친이계 임태희 전 의원을 경선에서 배제했다. ‘지역일꾼’이 필요한데 연고가 없는 등 그가 적합하지 않다는 것이다. 그런데 그를 다시 수원 영통에 공천했다. 평택엔 지역일꾼이 필요하고 영통엔 필요 없나.
연고가 중요하다는데 친박계 좌장인 서청원 의원은 지난해 10월 화성 보궐선거에서 별 연고 없이 공천을 받았다. 새누리당은 서울 동작을에는 아무런 연고가 없는 김문수 전 경기지사를 영입하려 애를 썼다. 이렇게 왔다 갔다 하니 권력을 쥔 친박계가 공천을 마음대로 한다는 비판을 받는 것이다. 친박계는 2008년 총선에서 친이계의 ‘자의적인 공천 학살’을 비난했다. 그랬던 이들이 이제는 공천을 무기로 활용한다.
새정치연합은 서울 동작을에 박원순 서울시장의 측근인 기동민 전 정무부시장을 공천했다. 지역위원장을 맡아 출마를 준비해온 허동준 씨는 경선기회조차 갖지 못했다. 의원 30명은 당의 공천은 명분이 없다며 공천철회를 요구했다. 새정치연합은 당의 텃밭인 광주 광산을조차 경선 없이 지도부가 공천하겠다고 한다. 이 지역은 사실상 공천이 당선이다. 그렇다면 이는 지도부가 국회의원을 정하는 것이나 마찬가지다. 새정치를 주창하면서 창당한 정당이 과거 정당보다 더 독선적인 행태를 보이고 있다.
공천은 정치개혁의 핵심이다. 확립된 제도가 없으면 의원이나 정치 지망생이나 모두 공천권을 쥐게 될 당내 권력의 눈치를 봐야 한다. 새누리당 전당대회에서 유력주자들 사이에서 ‘몸조심’을 하는 의원들의 상황이 바로 그런 것이다. 국가 개조 작업을 뒷받침해야 할 정당과 국회가 이런 모양새이니 개탄스러운 일이다.
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