Loyalists without consciences

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Loyalists without consciences

Saenuri Party leader Lee Jung-hyun on Thursday rebutted the opposition’s demand that President Park Geun-hye step down to take responsibility for the unprecedented abuse of power and influence-peddling scandal involving the president and her close friend Choi Soon-sil. Lee, chairman of the ruling party, said that the opposition’s call for her resignation is nothing but an attempt to determine the fate of the president in the court of public opinion.

Senior lawmaker Cho Won-jin, a core member of the pro-Park faction of the party, went so far as to demand that lawmakers not loyal to the president leave the party. Considering the pro-Park group’s acquiescence or connivance in the abuse of power and influence-peddling, his demand is preposterous.

Nearly a month has passed since Choi-gate paralyzed the government. Nevertheless, President Park is dragging her feet in terms of cooperating with the prosecution’s investigation. Big candlelight vigils every weekend in central Seoul testify to the gravity of the issue. We are dumbfounded that leaders of the ruling party are still bent on playing their role as the president’s bomb-throwers.

In fact, Chairman Lee was one of the closest aides to Park before he was elected head of the party. He served as senior secretary for political affairs and communications at the Blue House. Given that past, Lee should frankly confess what he knew about Choi’s meddling in state affairs. He must have had a front row seat. If he or other pro-Park legislators had warned the president about Choi’s invidious control, this kind of government collapse would not have occurred.

Park’s loyalists are quite a peculiar political group. They like to defend the president without any interest in right and wrong. They blindly follow in the president’s footsteps and attack her critics no matter how just they may be. That act is getting very old.

The entire nation is in chaos. If the Saenuri Party really wants to address this crisis, it should act in a responsible way. The key is to revamping the party itself. If Lee and others loyal to the president really care about the nation and their party, they should resign after apologizing to the people for what they allowed to go on behind the scenes.

Saenuri leaders failed to show the moral authority to steer a party in jeopardy in a better direction. If they don’t find their consciences, no citizen will support their party down the road. The party will vanish from the history of our democracy.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 18, Page 30
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