Four election questionsA general election is an important test of a society’s sense of justice. A grand trial is taking place on who is righteous and what is fair. History progresses through this ritual. But this year, history is running backwards. It is chaos.
Rep. Yoo Seong-min was forced to step down from the floor leader post of the ruling party for his words and actions that destroyed the organization’s order. For such wrongdoing, a political party has every right to not nominate him. If he runs as an independent, he can be judged by the voters. But why is the Saenuri Party delaying this decision? If it fears a backlash, why did it even consider eliminating him? If it were afraid of making such a move, how can we trust it with countering North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un? The ruling party is a coward.
Although it lacks the pluck to eliminate someone it should have, the party has no qualms when it comes to abusing the innocent. It has labeled the latest revision of the National Assembly Act an evil law. Rep. Joo Ho-young has been leading a constitutional petition to fight this revision. He also contributed to the passage of the controversial antiterrorism bill as the head of the National Intelligence Committee. Moreover, he was formerly a special political adviser to the president.
But the party just cut him loose for “having served three terms in an easy district.” Then, all the lawmakers in Daegu and North Gyeongsang are expected to quit in the middle of their political career? If it weren’t for the presidential race, President Park Geun-hye would have served seven or eight terms in Daegu.
Rep. Cho Hae-jin was not even given an opportunity to run in a primary. It appeared that his experience as a deputy floor leader under Rep. Yoo was the reason. Is it righteous, then, to hold him jointly accountable even though he has no committed no serious wrong?
Former lawmaker Yim Tae-hee, who served as chief of staff to President Lee Myung-bak, was given the nomination to run in Suwon in the July 2014 by-election. He wanted to run in Pyeongtaek, but the party made the decision. This time, he made his bid to run in Bundang, his old district. But he was not even given a chance to run in a primary.
In addition to these three lawmakers, a considerable number of contenders were not offered the chance to compete in primaries. What is the standard here?
Because those with power are not righteous, the defectors are raising their voices with confidence. Cho Eung-cheon, a candidate of the Minjoo Party of Korea, used to be a key secretary to President Park. His staffer created a report, based on public rumors, intended to smear other presidential aides. Cho sent this rubbish report to the upper authority. The report was leaked, and state affairs faced serious chaos.
If he didn’t know that the report was groundless, he was negligent. If he knew, his intention was malicious. Someone like this needs to take time to practice self-restraint and self-reflection. But he became an anti-Park fundamentalist, quoting the Constitution. This is grand chaos. Just because the president is wrong, it doesn’t mean that her adversaries are right.
When his leadership was questioned, Kim Chong-in, the interim head of the Minjoo Party, said “My life was spent to defend my honor.”
In fact, he often likes to talk about his honor. In November 2012, he published a book, “Why Economic Democratization Now?” In the preface, he quotes his grandfather, the inaugural Supreme Court chief justice, who said, “If your minds are weak and you fall for temptations such as power, money and relationships, your life will be ruined.”
When Kim was serving as the economic senior secretary to the Roh Tae-woo administration in 1992, he received 200 million won ($174,000) in bribes. He was found guilty and received a suspended prison term. He said honor is his life, so then what did he mean?
Today, he is the incarnation of morality, leading the reform initiatives of the largest opposition party. Did he ever apologize to the public properly? How come the Kwanhun Club, an association of senior journalists, did not ask him about this in a recent discussion session?
He may defend himself by saying that Park had also used him for a key post. But when he was chosen as the vice chairman of the emergency leadership of the Saenuri Party in 2012, the very same question about his ethics was raised.
Traditionally, liberals must be superior to conservatives in terms of morality. But this is no longer the case. In the past, there were struggles to defend morality. During the 2008 general election, Park Jae-seung, the nomination committee chairman of the liberal Democratic Party, used to be called the “angel of death.” He ruled out lawmakers with corruption and bribery convictions. Rep. Park Jie-won had a history of receiving bribes back when he worked as chief of staff for the Kim Dae-jung administration. At the time, he failed to win a nomination.
Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo abandoned the largest opposition party, complaining that then-Chairman Moon Jae-in failed to reform the party properly. The People’s Party must therefore show a more stern moral standard. But we actually see the opposite taking place. Rep. Park won a nomination without a problem.
The People’s Party is also having other troubles. Although Ahn said the party has a conservative national security policy, the Minjoo Party actually has a more conservative North Korea policy. The People’s Party is just repeating what had been said in the past.
Those with power are running too fast, and defectors are using their loopholes. The opposition high flyers are running toward the center of power. Because of them, justice is collapsing into chaos.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 30, Page 35
*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin