It’s time the Blue House cleans up

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It’s time the Blue House cleans up

All administrations in the past were involved in controversy involving legitimate power in the Blue House and a shrouded power force that wielded equally enormous influence. All dealt a heavy blow to the ruling power and government. The people and the nation shared the humiliation and the damage.

President Kim Young-sam’s son was called the younger president, and he meddled in state appointments and satisfied his own interests. When Hong In-kil, the chief of staff and longtime aide to President Kim, was charged with taking bribes from the Hanbo Group chairman, he claimed he was just a “feather,” suggesting there had been someone higher up pulling the strings. It was not just one, but three sons that caused trouble for the next president, Kim Dae-jung. His second son kept close contact with his father’s aides in the Blue House and interfered in state affairs. Two of Kim’s three sons went to prison.

Under President Lee Myung-bak, the public service ethics team at the Prime Minister’s Office acted as secret police for the president, spying on civilians. A presidential secretary from the president’s hometown led the surveillance operation. Prosecutors launched an investigation after politicians in the opposition claimed they had been tracked. The president and the government’s reputation were destroyed and no one stepped up to take responsibility.

The recent scandal involving Chung Yoon-hoi, a former secretary to President Park Geun-hye when she was a lawmaker, has warning signs all over. He is suspected of running a clandestine inner circle to influence appointments that were deemed controversial. The situation also involves the president’s three closest aides, and it is believed the secret group clashed with the presidential secretary in charge of public office discipline. The scandal, despite its explosive nature, was leaked to the media, underscoring the botched reporting system in the Blue House. There is speculation that the president’s brother may be involved.

Why does the nation have to put up with a messy power game every five years? The prosecution must speed up the investigation into the accusations against Chung and his group. And the matter should not disturb the legislative schedule before the year ends. The president should also check her style of governance and set the house in order, and personally answer for possible excesses by her aides. This trio knows the president best, but at the same time, are the most vulnerable to temptation. Park’s responsibility is ultimately to keep trouble at bay. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 4, Page 34

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