Governor accuses Park of hypocrisy
By Lee Tae-hoon
Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo, an underdog for the upcoming presidential race, lashed out Tuesday at Rep. Park Geun-hye, the interim leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, for her refusal to accept his proposal to revise the conservative party’s primary election rule.
He said Park was a hypocrite as she was the one who in 2002 left the defunct Grand National Party, which later became the Saenuri Party, due to then party leader Lee Hoi-chang’s refusal to accept her proposal to allow more ordinary citizens to participate in primaries.
“Park was the one who left the party over its refusal to accept her demand to overhaul the rules of the primary in 2002,” he said in an interview on a radio program.
He recently demanded a revision of the Saenuri Party's primary rules of Park so that non-party members can decide who will run in the presidential race on the conservative party’s ticket.
Park flatly rejected the proposal, suggesting that Kim should leave the party if he cannot obey the existing rules.
Currently, half the votes for the Saenuri Party’s primaries are given to party members, while the rest are given to ordinary citizens who want to participate in the intra-party contests.
Kim said he will continue as governor of the nation’s most populous province while running in the party’s primary.
“I will resign once I am confirmed as a presidential candidate,” he said.
Unlike lawmakers, heads of local government are not obliged to leave their posts for the preliminary registration for presidential hopefuls, which began Monday.
The decision may backfire and further drag down his already low support rate as this can be seen as an attempt to play it as safe as possible for an election that he has little chance of winning, while neglecting his duties as governor.
Many pundits forecast Kim and other hopefuls have little chance of defeating Park in the primary as she has further cemented her support base with her party’s victory in the April 11 National Assembly elections.
Park, widely viewed as one of the most likely contenders to win the next presidential election, has not yet thrown her hat into the ring. The presidential election will be held on Dec. 19 as President Lee Myung-bak's single five-year term ends in February next year.
She played a pivotal role in helping the ruling party win a majority in the parliamentary elections though most pundits predicted an easy victory for the main opposition Democratic United Party.
Kim is the first and so far only politician from the Saenuri Party to declare a presidential candidacy. The 61-year-old has long had a single-digit support rate in previous surveys of potential presidential candidates, trailing behind Park, liberal IT-mogul-turned professor Ahn Cheol-soo and Chung Mong-joon.
More potential presidential contenders, including former Saenuri Party leader Chung, are expected to follow suit soon.
Chung, an honorary FIFA vice president and the largest shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries, is expected to declare his intention to take part in the primary by the end of April. Other potential presidential hopefuls in the ruling bloc, including Lee Jae-oh, a close confidant to President Lee Myung-bak, and former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan are reportedly mulling declaring their presidential ambitions.