Withdraw Cho’s nominationThe National Election Commission (NEC) should respect political neutrality and fairness in administering elections. If the public loses trust in the organization, it can hurt our democracy in a serious way. Under the Moon Jae-in administration, however, the independence of the body is being questioned due to its rush to appoint people with lopsided political views as members of the commission.
Controversy over the NEC’s adherence to a certain political ideology is being fueled by the ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s nomination of Prof. Cho Sung-dae, an ardent Moon supporter, as a member of the commission, following the appointment of Cho Hai-ju, a worker on Moon’s campaign in the last presidential election. Given the way Cho Sung-dae behaved and spoke in the past, we cannot but raise questions about his impartiality over sensitive issues.
Ahead of the Seoul mayoral by-election in 2011, he expressed his strong support for candidate Park Won-soon on Facebook, saying, “Hurray, Park! All Koreans support him as the new leader of Seoul!” Such comments constitute a brazen backing of Park. In the 2012 presidential election, Cho publicly supported Moon. Describing himself as a close friend of Unification Minister Lee In-young, Cho often retweeted his postings and became a member of his support group.
Cho has been supportive of Rep. Sim Sang-jeong, former head of the left-wing Justice Party, and even donated 100,000 won ($86) to her office each month. He hurled insults at conservative politicians. For instance, when he was asked to refrain from over-the-top criticisms of former President Lee Myung-bak by one of his aides, Cho rebutted, “You mind your own business!”
After opposition lawmakers denounced his past remarks about the Cheonan sinking in Tuesday’s hearing in the National Assembly, he backed down and apologized for them. But it does not make sense for the government to appoint a person who outright sides with it as a member of the commission. If Moon pushes this appointment, it will end up rekindling controversy over past scandals.
The NEC has been embroiled in controversy several times. In the April 15 parliamentary elections, it allowed the DP to use its campaign slogan “Root out past ills!” even while banning the opposition from using its slogan “Devastated livelihoods!” When the commission is already under fire for its impartiality, who would trust the results of by-elections next year and the 2022 presidential election? The government must withdraw its nomination of Cho as soon as possible.