No one to blamePresident Park Geun-hye has nominated Kookmin University Professor Kim Byong-joon as a new prime minister without any apology for the unprecedented abuse-of-power scandal by Choi Soon-sil, her longtime friend, and without accepting an all-out investigation of the scandal. The president skipped the pivotal process of a tripartite meeting among the Blue House, the ruling Saenuri Party and opposition Minjoo Party of Korea to nominate a new prime minister and the rest of her cabinet members.
With the opposition’s call for her resignation gaining momentum — along with its boycott of confirmation hearings for the prime minister nominee — the situation is heading into extreme chaos. There is a tacit consensus in our society that we must avoid the worst-case scenario in which the president resigns in the middle of her term. But the president isn’t doing much to help avoid that fate.
Park has invited elder statesmen to the Blue House twice to listen to their advice. Despite their demand that she accept a thorough investigation of the situation and tell the whole truth, she nominated a new prime minister without warning — and unilaterally. One wonders why she even asked those senior politicians to come to the presidential office.
What the president has accomplished in the ten days since JTBC’s bombshell revelations is a 90-second televised apology and a reshuffle of the cabinet. The people are interested in what kind of relationship she and Choi maintained, how much Choi interfered in state affairs, and whether the president really allowed it — not who sits in the cabinet.
A Blue House official said the president nominated Kim as the prime minister to respect the opposition’s demand for a neutral cabinet. That’s nonsense. A neutral cabinet is supposed to establish a bipartisan administration in which a prime minister is appointed through a consensus between the ruling and opposition parties. But the president skipped the pivotal part of that process — consultation with the opposition — suggesting she doesn’t know how to communicate with anyone.
Park owes the nation a sincere promise to clear all suspicions. She must explain all through an unscripted press conference.
If the president presses ahead with the nomination for prime minister, a catastrophe is guaranteed. 67.3 percent of our people want her to step down, and even members of the ruling party criticize the president’s move. Her nominees will never pass their confirmation hearings.
The main suspect in this scandal is President Park. Without her help or tacit approval, such a massive abuse of power could not take place. Former presidents took responsibility for corruption scandals involving their relatives. President Park’s scandal is all about herself.
The president does not comprehend the severity of her crisis. If an irrevocable tragedy occurs down the road, she has no one to blame but herself.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 3, Page 34