Key secretaries must go first

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Key secretaries must go first

Controversial figures Woo Byung-woo, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, and Ahn Chong-bum, senior secretary for policy coordination, have the insolence to refuse resignation even as it has become pretty clear that the presidential staff had served a friend of the president as much as the president herself.

After President Park Geun-hye made a public apology for a series of influence-peddling by her friend Choi Soon-sil, her chief of staff Lee Won-jong proposed all 10 senior staff members resign. But the two members resisted to complying with the plan. The president should first be held accountable for secretly allowing a civilian without any official status to meddle with state affairs.

The next to be responsible are senior secretary for civil affairs that should have kept watch and stopped any misconduct by the people close to the president; the senior secretary for policy coordination who has been deeply involved in creating and running clandestine organizations that raised funds for the president; and her private secretary Jeong Ho-seung for sending emails of confidential presidential speeches and state documents to Choi. They should be the first to quit and face probe by the state prosecution, or special investigators. Regardless of the issue of legality, they have been closest to the president among the 500 staff at the presidential office.

Even the chief of staff is said to have been a figurehead while the three acted as the main members in the presidential office. They are, therefore, equally responsible for the disgraceful and preposterous abuses of official power in and out of the presidential office. Woo may think he could use his public title as some kind of protection in the investigations he would be facing. He is audacious for thinking he could still wield power.

If the president apologized, there are others who should share the responsibility. Calls and campaigns to impeach the president and demanding her to step down are spreading fast. Some are already suggesting the radical action of having the entire presidential staff, cabinet, and leadership of the ruling party resign. Such a collective action could bring state governance to a stop. At least the key or senior secretaries should go first. The president must act fast if she wants to avoid a fatal fall.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 27, Page 34
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