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[Editorial] Stop Backstabbing

Posted February. 13, 2007 07:45,   


The Grand National Party’s disputes over questioning the qualifications of presidential hopefuls seem to be turning into mudslinging. “I have concrete evidence that (former Seoul City Mayor Lee Myung-bak) cannot deny once it is divulged,” Jeong In-bong, special legal advisor of former GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye, said on Monday. However, Jeong declined to elaborate on the details. In this regard, GNP Rep. Joo Ho-young, chief secretary of Lee Myung-bak, refuted this, saying that it is just a witch hunt. They seem to be reenacting the indiscreet finger-pointing and political slandering witnessed during the 2002 presidential elections.

There are problems for both sides. Jeong has been fueling suspicion against Lee without disclosing any tangible evidence. It sounds like a typical political ploy. Although Park Geun-hye has been denying her involvement in the controversy, she is facing rising suspicions because similar incidents have repeatedly occurred. Meanwhile, Lee Myung-bak’s behavior has been inappropriate as well. Whenever questions arose regarding his qualifications, he has overacted and branded all of them as “negative campaigning.”

If you are a presidential contender who wants to lead the nation over the next five years, you must be thoroughly questioned, including your policies and ethics. The GNP lost the presidential elections in 1997 and 2002 due to lack of a preliminary confirmation process on its candidates. Therefore, a thorough confirmation process is absolutely necessary for both the party and the people because a stricter confirmation process will likely result in a better-qualified president. Over 55 percent of people are in favor of a preliminary confirmation process before the primaries, according to an opinion poll.

In order to minimize side effects, the GNP should take the initiative and conduct a confirmation process for its candidates within the party from the citizens’ perspective. This will be the short cut to bring about “beautiful presidential primaries.” The GNP has already launched a committee set up specifically for the presidential primaries. Since a representative of each presidential hopeful is participating in the committee, the committee should take a pivotal role in closely examining the qualifications of its candidates as soon as possible. If necessary, the GNP should change the rules of the nomination race scheduled for early March and expedite the schedule set for discussing the details of its in-house confirmation process.

In any case, the confirmation process must not end up in backbiting among candidates. It is not just a matter of a political party but a matter of establishing an advanced party politics and election culture in Korea.