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NEC Launches Investigation into Smear Campaigns

Posted June. 04, 2002 23:42,   


As political parties continue to indulge in mud-slinging campaigns with just about a week ahead of the June 13 local election, the National Election Commission on June 4 launched investigations into election campaigns to put an end to vicious exchanges of words.

The commission started to look into speech scripts, statements, comments and a variety of leaflets issued by the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and the opposition National Grand Party (GNP) to find any violation of election laws.

Those suspected for wrongdoings will be asked to submit related materials, and later warned, fined or prosecuted if they find to be in clear violation of law.

Earlier, NEC pinpointed 40 cases of illegal mud-slinging campaigns, which include remarks by high-ranking party officials and statements by spokespersons.

According to the public release, Lee Kyu-taek, secretary general of GNP intentionally misnamed the ruling party as "New Millennium Disillusion Party," joining the list of disrespectful remarks such as "Candidate Roh is following in the footsteps of his boss DJ to decimate Pusan" (Ahn Sang-young, GNP candidate to Pusan mayor race); "Presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang is an infamous swindler." (Han Hwa-gap, MDP President); and "Candidate Lee is a super ultra elitist." (Min Young-sam, Vice Spokesperson of MDP).

The two sides were no less ill-intent in writings - GNP elaborated on the political background of MDP presidential Roh Moo-hyun`s father-in-law in its party magazine, while Park Sang-eun, MDP ticket to Incheon mayor race, charging his rival Ahn Sang-soo with draft dodging and once running a salon over a newspaper ad.

"We have decided to step in as party leaders and head offices continue to intensify verbal attacks against opponents, which are even close to name-callings, instead of setting good examples to the public," said an official from the supervisory commission. "The vicious words against presidential candidates can even constitute violation of the election law banning pre-election campaigns."

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com