Holding Park allies accountable

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Holding Park allies accountable

The ruling Saenuri Party Reps. Yoon Sang-hyun and Choi Kyung-hwan, key allies of President Park Geun-hye, are accused of persuading and intimidating a candidate to change his constituency to run in the April 13 general election. After the taped conversations were released, Choi — a four-term lawmaker and former deputy prime minister for the economy — claimed that it was advice as a colleague. But the person who they pressured to change constituency, citing the wishes of President Park, was Kim Sung-hoi. Kim was rebidding for a constituency also desired by Suh Chung-won, the big fish of the clan staunchly loyal to the president.

Yoon was blunt. He told Kim not to disobey him as he had “various things” on him. When Kim asked if his changing constituency to run was really the intention of the president, Choi said, “Of course. We will help you if you move to another constituency.” Choi, a core member of the pro-Park faction, denied any meddling in the nomination procedure, as he did not have an official title in the party or any role in the nomination process.

We cannot jump to conclusions from excerpts of a private conversation without knowing the full context. To coerce or coax or promise a reward to a candidate for decisions related to a party primary is a clear violation of the election law on public office. This case calls for not only thorough investigation by the party, but also by law enforcement agencies. President Park also must clarify whether it really had been her intention for the candidate to change his mind and run in the other constituency instead.

The ruling party last week released a so-called white paper — which analyzed the causes for its landslide defeat in the last legislative election — three months after the April 13 vote. But the 291-page report failed to mention the fundamental reasons for the party’s crushing defeat in the election. In fact, the chaotic fracas over the nomination and excesses of the pro-Park group were what made the voters turn their backs on the ruling party. The president must punish the two of her loyalists if they wielded influence using her name.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 20, Page 30
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