Slinging slurs at opponentsPolitical wrangling has been intensifying from the simmering scandal over the urban development project in Daejang-dong, Seongnam city. Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung — the frontrunner among presidential candidates of the ruling Democratic Party (PPP) and the former mayor who approved the project in 2015 — demanded resignation of the opposition People Power Party (PPP) head Lee Jun-seok and vowed to exile PPP floor-leader Kim Gi-hyeon. Lee of the PPP threatened to remove Gyeonggi Gov. Lee’s “dirty” mask. The vulgar skirmish by the rivalling parties over the scandal that has battered both ruling and opposition parties are tiring the people.
Gov. Lee claims he has not received a cent from the Daejang-dong development project that took off under his mayorship. He instead accused the PPP members of being at the heart of the corruption. He alleges the collusion is between PPP members, including former lawmaker Kwak Sang-do whose son received a whopping 5 billion won ($4.2 million) in severance pay for working in Hwacheon Daeyu and key figures in the asset management company which won the lucrative project.
But Lee opposed the installation of an independent prosecutor to investigate the evolving case. Although he previously admitted he designed the Daejang-dong project, Lee blames the scandal entirely on the PPP.
But circumstances point to his involvement because his two key aides — Yoo Dong-gyu, former acting president of the Seongnam Development Corp., and Jung Jin-sang, former policy chief of the Gyeonggi Provincial Government — have been implicated in the case.
The PPP also cannot avoid responsibility. The PPP’s front-running presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl’s father is also said to have sold his house to the sister of Kim Man-bae, the largest shareholder of Hwacheon Daeyu. Yoon claims his father sold the house below market price and was not aware who the buyer was. But the former prosecutor general had known Kim since he was a veteran reporter on judiciary affairs. PPP Chairman Lee, who had vowed to be different as the first 30-something chief of a conservative party, has also been resorting to a tongue-lashing campaign against Governor Lee.
Instead of waging a tasteless verbal dispute, Gov. Lee and the PPP leadership must frankly explain about all the allegations against them. The prosecution must speed up a transparent investigation to alleviate public suspicions on the affair. Current Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo has ordered a “speedy and thorough” investigation on both rivalling parties.