By Lee Tae-hoon
At a time when a drastic change in the political landscape is underway, a Buddhist monk, known as a mentor of possible presidential contender Ahn Cheol-soo, has expressed the need to create a new political party.
Ven. Pomnyun, chairman of the Peace Foundation and founder of the Jungto Community religious group, shared his views Monday with an audience of 500 in a lecture at Osan City Hall in Gyeonggi Province.
Much attention has been paid to the monk as he has a strong influence not only on the Buddhist community and civic groups, but also medical doctor-turned-IT expert Ahn, who enjoys a higher popularity than any other presidential hopeful.
His remarks will likely fuel speculation that he and other liberal civic groups will support the launch of a new party to increase the chances of the media-shy IT-guru running in the presidential election in December next year.
“Should the conservatives and the liberals, the governing and opposition parties continue to fight and regionalism continue to occur, the country will collapse,” he said. “If this continues, we need a new political party.”
Pomnyun added that the liberals should win the next presidential election by a wide margin and embrace the middle-of-the-roaders to successfully push reform of the country.
He also noted that those without political affiliations should talk about politics more freely and passionately.
“We must not let a handful of people do politics,” he said.“The people must wake up and elect a new leader.”
He has been giving a series of lectures, under the title “Build a Hopeful World,” since September. He plans to hold 102 sessions in cities across the country until early December.
Pomnyun organized and recruited Ahn for the “Youth Concert,” a popular live talk show that has played a key role in the latter’ rise as a major political figure this year.
During the lecture, he also openly attacked the Lee Myung-bak administration.
“The voters all knew four years ago that he was unethical, but still elected him because he was an economy expert and everyone only wanted to earn money,” he said. “So did you make money?”
He also made a remark apparently noting his disapproval of Park Geun-hye, a leading political contender of the ruling Grand National Party.
“For a woman, becoming a president is not the only important thing. Raising children is more important than anything.”