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[Editorial] Lee Hoi-chang’s Choice Blinded by Long-lasting Greed

[Editorial] Lee Hoi-chang’s Choice Blinded by Long-lasting Greed

Posted November. 08, 2007 03:03,   


Former Grand National Party (GNP) chairman Lee Hoi-chang officially announced his presidential bid as an independent candidate yesterday. His latest move runs against the rule of law, advancement of democracy based on political parties, and the creation of a democratic administration, to sever the long rule of socialist presidents. Aware that his decision in itself is self-contradictory, Lee’s statement was unconvincing to say the least.

He defined his candidacy as a last-ditch effort to honor the greater good in society, an effort arising out of his dedication to saving the desperate and suffering Korea. His argument, however, does not sound persuasive. If he had really believed the most urgent good lies in the creation of a new administration, replacing the liberal government, he should have supported the candidate of his party – the one chosen by the public – and tried to soothe the intra-party feud. His entrance in the race, contrary to his contention, has served to hinder his Party’s presidential goal.

He also contended at the press conference that a new administration only carries meaning when a legitimate leader is at the helm. His presidential bid, however, contradicts that proposition. He denies the legitimacy of a candidate lawfully chosen through a primary by a political party that commands the support of the majority of South Koreans. His act itself shakes the very roots of democratic principle. He also said that former GNP leader Park Geun-hye would understand his actions and would share his view down the road. He seems to be looking forward to a deal with Park. In other words, Lee is trying to brand Park as another illegitimate maverick.

When he lost his second bid five years ago, his campaign rocked the Party with various bribery scandals. And to recover from this smear, the party moved its headquarters into a shack in a move of sincere public apology. The GNP has also made various other efforts to reform itself as the renewed guardian of conservatism, and, in the end, has brought about a pleasing and laudable primary result. Witnessing such transformation efforts, the vast majority of South Koreans have grown to consider the Party as the only possible choice in the upcoming presidential election. But Lee denied all efforts and transformation with his announcement. He alleged, “A new administration does not mean a new South Korea. It’s mere fantasy.” His remarks seem intended to minimize the legitimacy of GNP official candidate Lee Myung-bak. But it is Lee Hoi-chang who really lacks legitimacy.

In a nutshell, Lee Hoi-chang dumped all the blame on GNP candidate Lee Myung-bak. He contended that GNP candidate Lee’s alleged vagueness on issues of national security has brought him to his third bid. No South Korean, however, buys his claims. The other parties have constantly accused the GNP of its somewhat hard-line positions on national security issues, including relations with North Korea. Lee Hoi-chang simply needed a name to embellish his long-term greed. We vividly remember how much he compromised his stance on North Korean issues back in 2002 to cater to the mainstream populism of the time.

Near the end of his announcement, Lee Hoi-chang said, “If it becomes crystal clear that I have made the wrong choice, I will gladly sacrifice myself for a greater good.” But his embellished rhetoric cannot hide his true intent: “I will wait and see how the public reacts to my third bid. If my approval rating remains low and there are slim chances of my winning, I will give up my candidacy.” His belated withdrawal would not suffice to make up for all the harm he has caused to South Korea’s democracy and the conservative voters.