Nomination reform is needed

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Nomination reform is needed

The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea has dropped five more incumbent lawmakers from its nomination races for the April 13 general election. That adds up to 16 so far. Most of them are core members of the pro-Roh Moo-hyun group, who led an extreme ideological battle with the ruling Saenuri Party and were known for habitually resorting to insults.

The Minjoo Party’s move is aimed at upholding integrity and morality as a fundamental requirement for its nominees. That could affect the entire political scene. If the ruling party joins that crusade, it could ignite a powerful reform drive in the political arena.

Jung Chung-rae of the opposition is infamous for his coarse and blunt remarks. He referred to one of his colleagues on the Supreme Committee as a “blackmailer” and compared former presidents Syngman Rhee and Park Chung Hee to Hitler. He even argued that North Korean drones which last year penetrated into South Korea did not come from the North. Another representative denied a nomination, Yoon Hu-duk, pressured a CEO to hire his daughter. He urged the public not to accept the results of the 2012 presidential election after raising the possibility of vote rigging.

But the Minjoo Party’s reform drive appears somewhat half-baked. Interim leader Kim Chong-in vowed to move the party away from the political activism of the 1980s and the power struggle of the pro-Roh faction. His pledge got broad approval from the public. But suspicions linger over the Minjoo Party’s nomination process, as many who have not been passed over have questionable pasts. They include floor leader Lee Jong-kul, who four years ago called Park Geun-hye a “bitch,” and Hong Ihk-pyo, who said the president should not have been born, and Kim Gyeong-hyeop, who denounced critical voices in his own party as spies for the ruling party.

The fate of many are not determined yet. The Minjoo Party must find fresh faces to reshape the embattled party. If its nomination procedure falls short of people’s expectations, it will be nothing but a temporary face-lift ahead of the election.

In the meantime, the ruling Saenuri Party is seeing fights for nominations between lawmakers loyal to President Park and those who are not. Only one lawmaker, Kim Tae-hwan, has been passed over for causing trouble while drunk. Those who are idling away under the cloak of unrivaled privileges must be replaced. Both parties face an uphill battle in their nomination processes. They must weed out their uglier politicians if they really want to improve the quality of our National Assembly.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 11, Page 30

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