Independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo last week proposed a three-way TV debate to his rivals, Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party and Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party. The Moon camp accepted the offer but Park`s side gave a negative response, saying, Candidates from the opposition camps are in fact in a race (to unify the candidate). Can we have a debate? The ruling party seems to fear a scenario in which Moon and Ahn will gang up on Park. If this is true, such a passive attitude will not help Park seize a chance at victory at a time when opposition parties are considering unifying their candidate.
Park and Moon had a sort of discussion in the course of their primaries, while Ahn had no such experience. Given that Ahn proposed a debate, both Park and Moon should readily accept to confirm their qualifications to the people in public. If they wait until the opposition fields a unified candidate, the chance to debate will disappear.
With about 50 days left until the presidential election, the three candidates are touring the country campaigning. They claim that they are trying to know what the people are thinking, but they are trying to curry favor from provincial residents and interest groups in different professions. Their "lip-service tour" lacks candidate verification and debates. So what stage can effectively screen the visions and policies of the candidates who want to lead the worlds 10th-largest economy?
In a news conference Sunday, Park said, "The board of directors of the Jeongsoo Scholarship Foundation should devise a solution, including a name change. In response, the ruling party disagreed, saying, Changing the name doesn`t address the issue. Both Park and Moon fiercely debated over the Northern Line Limit, the de facto inter-Korean sea border, behind the scenes. On suspended tours to Mount Kumgang in North Korea, Ahn initially said talks with Pyongyang should come first but later subtly changed his words, saying, We need North Koreas promise that the killing of a South Korean tourist should never happen again. The one-sided arguments of the three candidates are meaningless. Voters want to see them debate each other on sensitive topics.
The dynamics of the presidential race apparently remains vague until the candidate registration date (Nov. 25-26) due to the delay in the candidate unification process. Three presidential candidate debates for the December election will be hosted by the National Election Commission on Dec. 4, 10 and 16. In December, however, voters have no time to prove the candidates` worth because registration will be over. They cannot expect a national vision and verification of a candidate`s abilities merely with ad-hoc policies that the candidates talk about here and there and uncalculated pledges. Media outlets also need to step up their efforts. A candidate who avoids a debate intended to screen the qualifications and policies of candidates admits to lack of ability.