Extreme confusion in previous polls should be avoided
Mudslinging is rife within political circles in the run-up to the Dec. 19 presidential election, raising fears that the forthcoming poll may be tainted with excessive negative campaigns again. Some presidential hopefuls make unreasonable and anachronistic remarks against strong contenders, casting a dark cloud over the prospect of a fair presidential competition.
Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the ruling Saenuri Party, who is leading opinion polls, is the prime target of candidate rivals in the ruling and opposition parties. Earlier this week, Rep. Lee Jae-oh, one of President Lee Myung-bak’s close confidants, caused controversy by saying it’s too early for the country to be ruled by a female president. He questioned Park’s leadership ability, citing her lack of military experience in a country that still remains technically at war with North Korea.
Rep. Lee lashed out at Park Tuesday again, labeling her as the very essence of autocratic rule exemplified by her father and dictatorial former President Park Chung-hee. Park dismissed Lee’s comments, asking, ``Is there still a person who thinks this way about a female president in the 21st century?’’ It’s apparent that Lee’s remarks lack logic, lack control and are serious enough to provoke controversy over sexual discrimination.
Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo, one of the governing party’s presidential hopefuls, also joined in smearing Park. He made what was considered a thinly veiled attack on her for her failure to marry. Kim told reporters that he thought being single could be hypocrisy and that he got married because he could not lead a celibate life like a nun or a monk. It’s not clear if his remarks were aimed at Park, but given that marriage is an individual choice, he must have gone too far.
Presidential hopefuls of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) have also engaged in a verbal war, slandering each other. Sohn Hak-kyu, the liberal party’s former leader and one of strong contenders, fired a salvo at Moon Jae-in, another presidential hopeful who served as chief of staff under the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, saying, ``President and aide is different. Sohn went a step further to underestimate Moon’s experience in state affairs, terming the Roh administration as a failed government. Moon reacted angrily, saying he couldn’t accept Sohn’s allegations.
A spokesman for Ahn Cheol-soo, a software mogul-turned-professor, Tuesday asked the DUP’s presidential hopefuls to refrain from slandering Ahn. The spokesman’s demand came as Sohn and other contenders expressed negative comments on Ahn, a potential frontrunner in the liberal camp who is still declining to reveal whether he will enter the presidential race.
We see the underdogs’ attacks on the front-runners as part of strategies to catch up with them through ``noise marketing’’ but our concern is that the presidential election in December could become so heated up that it might become a shambolic scene of mudslinging between political parties. We vividly remember the confusion and civil war-like partisan clashes during previous elections.