Go to contents

Embattled PM changes words about his alleged involvement in bribery

Embattled PM changes words about his alleged involvement in bribery

Posted April. 17, 2015 07:23,   


When Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo was challenged by an opposition lawmaker during a parliamentary session on Thursday about his oscillating explanations regarding his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal, the embattled prime minister blamed them on the talking style of people from the Chungcheong provinces. In an apparent attempt to dodge political offensives over the scandal, Lee argued that Chungcheong people tend not to make clear statements.

However, he continued to give conflicting explanations about himself throughout the four-day session. He gave confusing answers after a close aide to a late businessman, Sung Wan-jong, said that he met with Lee before the April 24, 2013 parliamentary by-elections to hand over 30 million won (27,556 U.S. dollars). When reporters asked Lee whether he met Sung alone in his campaign office in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province, the prime minister denied it, claiming that his office was crowded with 40 to 50 people.

When Jung Sung-ho, a lawmaker of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), asked the same question during a parliamentary question-and-answer session, the prime minister vehemently denied that he had met Sung alone.

After the Dong-A Ilbo reported on Thursday that Lee`s former chauffeur admitted having seen the prime minister being alone with Sung and his secretary, Lee made subtle changes in his remarks. It was until Thursday morning that he clearly answered to reporters` questions, denying he had never met with Sung alone.

During a parliamentary session soon after the denial, the prime minister took a step back, saying, "I don`t remember." When another opposition lawmaker asked if what the prime minister did not remember was whether the meeting was private, Lee said the chauffeur was one of many people assisting his campaign. Noting that he was seeing if he really had a private meeting with Sung, Lee argued that he did not remember whether he had met him at all.

As Do Jong-hwan, another NPAD lawmaker, asked why the prime minister said "never" on April 4 to questions on his private meeting with Sung, Lee answered, "He said he never remembered," inviting criticisms that the prime minister playing with words.

The four-day parliamentary session failed to address suspicions surrounding the prime minister, ending up fueling controversies over Lee`s conflicting remarks.