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Security service for presidential candidates

Posted March. 29, 2017 07:12,   

Updated March. 29, 2017 07:21


Robert F. Kennedy won five out of six Democratic presidential primaries in 1968 when his brother John F. Kennedy was assassinated. On the day when he won in California’s primary, he was shot on his way from the crowded dining room to the press room despite his private guard’s warning and died on the next day. The killer was a Palestinian immigrant who was disgruntled with his pro-Israel policies.

Though some former Korean presidential candidates, Lee Hoi-chang and former President Lee Myung-bak, were pelted with eggs, the intensity of threats has been on the rise. Former President Park Geun-hye was attacked with a box-cutter when she was campaigning for Oh Se-hoon, who was running for Seoul Mayor, and was then a strong presidential candidate back in 2006. Moon Jae-in, a presidential favorite and former leader of the Minjoo Party of Korea, is guarded by a group of volunteers consisting of five former members of the Special Forces. Other presidential candidates have no bodyguards.

Key political parties will finalize their presidential candidate from this week to next week. Once one becomes an official presidential candidate, police can provide support to him or her. A candidate’s schedule is mostly public and has large exposure to the public. A potential conflict between conservative and liberal supporters has escalated more than ever since former president Park's impeachment. As was the case with the murder of Kim Jong Nam, North Korea might intervene to create chaos in the South.

U.S. presidential candidates are guarded by the Secret Service within 120 days from the election date. Former President Barack Obama had been guarded for 18 months before the election due to the threats from racists. Now is the time for us to think about a joint security service by police and the presidential security service. The security service has no incumbent president to escort. There is no reason to leave idle the top security professionals equipped with best devices to detect explosives, poison, and wire-tapping. Given that it is a snap election, the outcome of the election should not be distorted at least by the candidates’ safety.