Is Ahn ready to declare presidential ambitions?
Shares of AhnLab, a leading anti-virus service provider founded by Ahn Cheol-soo, hit the daily ceiling of 15 percent Monday as a local media outlet broke the news that the IT-guru had expressed a strong willingness to run for the presidency.
Hopes are high that the potential dark horse will run and win the Dec. 19 presidential race.
Still, the rising political star’s close affiliates strongly denied that Ahn had affirmed his intentions to compete in the upcoming presidential election.
Ahn also remained tight-lipped when Rep. Chung Sye-kyun, former chairman of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), pushed him into declaring his presidential intentions and urged him to run in his party’s presidential primary.
Preliminary registration for the presidential poll will start from next week, but few political observers predict the IT-mogul-turned professor will show up at the National Election Commission any time soon.
They argue that Ahn has little interest in the preliminary registration, which allows presidential hopefuls to engage in limited campaigning activities, such as distribution of name cards and promotional material.
Nevertheless, the 50-year-old reform-minded professor will continue to face mounting calls to declare whether the cause of the stock price of AhnLab skyrocketing was based on rumors or his determination to enter politics.
Chung claims that Ahn would be better off joining the DUP and prove himself to be worthy of being the head of state by competing with potential presidential candidates within the liberal party for a ticket for the presidential election.
“He should not ignore party politics, even though there has been strong public distrust in it,” the four-term lawmaker said.
“Professor Ahn should take a proactive approach as it is a must for presidential candidates to go through a verification process.”
However, Rep. Kim Hyo-seuk, a close associate to Ahn, noted that it is still premature for the public and politicians to jump to a conclusion that he will enter the presidential race.
“To my understanding, Ahn’s stance is that as he expressed before; he will enter politics if he is obliged to do so to meet the needs of the times,” he said. “Why would Ahn roll up his sleeves and enter politics if existing politicians are doing their jobs well.”
Some lawmakers of the DUP including Rep. Lee Jong-kul, advised their party to recruit him as a possible potential candidate as early as possible.
They argued that a faction loyal to the late President Roh Moo-hyun in the party has been thwarting the recruitment of him to increase their chances of maintaining their dominant power in the liberal party.
Insiders say Ahn is mulling declaring his bid as an independent candidate rather than joining a political party.
His popularity in the liberal block remains firm, as many of their possible potential presidential contenders, including Moon Jae-in, the late Roh’s chief of staff, performed poorly in the April 11 National Assembly elections.