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Probe needed into alleged power abuse by president` aides

Probe needed into alleged power abuse by president` aides

Posted December. 05, 2014 07:04,   


During a meeting of the National Assembly`s committee on education, culture, sports and tourism Wednesday, rival parties sparred over a growing political scandal surrounding allegations that a group of close aides to President Park Geun-hye with no official positions intervened in the personnel affairs of state organizations.

Yoo Ki-hong and Ahn Min-seok, lawmakers of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, claimed that after an equestrian athlete daughter of Chung Yoon-hoi, who is allegedly at the core of an unofficial group of advisors to President Park, failed to win a national championship in April last year, the Korea Equestrian Federation was put under special audit and inspection and that a senior official at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism who led the probe was sacked. The lawmakers also argued that Chung was behind the actions.

It was not the first time that allegations of Chung`s intervention in the Korea Equestrian Federation. In April this year, Ahn claimed that Chung`s daughter was receiving preferential treatments and the replacements of federation`s executive members were orchestrated by him. The lawmaker also argued that judges who gave low points to Chung`s daughter came under police investigation after Chung used his influence on some officials at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. On Wednesday, Ahn asserted that Chung also used his influence to have the ministry official sacked because a ministry report contained negative points about Chung.

Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Kim Jong-deok denied the allegations Thursday, saying that the ministry`s personnel affairs were in the hands of the minister, not Cheong Wa Dae. After the father of a taekwondo athlete committed suicide complaining about unfair judges, President Park called for investigations into irregularities at sports organizations. The culture ministry said that the investigation into the Korea Equestrian Federation was part of the ministry`s special probes into some 2,000 sports organizations for four months following the presidential order.

If and how Chung and his wife used their influences have yet to be confirmed. Chung`s daughter won a gold medal in the dressage team event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. The parents might have found it unfair that their gold medalist daughter almost lost her place in the national team because she finished second in a domestic competition because of biased judges. It is widely known that irregularities and corruption are deeply rooted in Korea`s sports community.

However, if there was biased judging, the issue should be dealt with through normal procedures. Cheong Wa Dae and the ministry should leave no stones unturned in the suspicion that Chung intervened in the personnel affairs of state organizations. That is the only way that the president will live up to her promise to "normalize the abnormalities" and straighten up the way state affairs are handled.