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[Editorial] Thirty Days to GNP Primary

Posted July. 20, 2007 03:12,   


Yesterday’s televised GNP hearing between presidential aspirants Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye was an unprecedented political experiment in the history of Korea’s machine politics. After the direct presidential election was reincarnated in 1987, the then Democratic Liberal Party called for a primary election in 1992. However, the Kim Young-sam camp won a landslide victory. In 1997, the first ever TV debate between presidential candidates Lee Hoi-chang and Kim Dae-jung was carried out. Now we are having in-party hearings.

The negative campaign between Lee and Park invited investigations by prosecutors. However, as long as the candidates do not lose their right to run because of their crimes, the one who determines candidates’ qualifications is the general public. Right before the hearing, the chief of the hearing committee Ahn Kang-min complained about the uncooperative attitudes of both camps and the limits on the committee’s ability to verify the candidates further without investigative rights. The committee did well, and the rest is for the public to decide. As Ahn said, the people would forgive candidates’ mistakes, but not their lies.

For the GNP, it is done with its job in the first stage. Primary election day on August 19 is a month away and 5 months are left before the presidential election. The two hopefuls should compete by showing their leadership and their ability to run state affairs in order to achieve national security and prosperity. They also have to show if they have what it takes to become a president; commitment, integrity, strategy, competence, just to name a few attributes. Thy also have to prove that they have the ability to lead the country in the 21st Century, to arbitrate between warring factions, to coordinate conflicting interests, to look ahead, and to draw on their past achievements.

The people, media, and expert groups need to analyze, verify and, compare leadership skills. Leadership should be the first criterion in choosing the next president in order to avoid the wrong choice.

The canal project, train ferry project, controversial impromptu policies toward North Korea, and some populist pledges are all that the two have proposed so far. So the public needs to know more about their policies. Four TV debates and 13 joint speech sessions starting tomorrow should be an opportunity to make their policies known to the public.