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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Dec. 27)

2017/12/27 07:44

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Hong's arrogance

Opposition leader should contain his outbursts

The Supreme Court upheld last week a lower court's ruling which cleared Liberty Korea Party (LKP) Chairman Hong Joon-pyo of charges of taking illegal political funds. He had been accused of receiving 100 million won ($92,600) from the late Sung Wan-jong, the former head of the local construction firm Keangnam Enterprises, ahead of his party's leadership race in 2011.

With the Supreme Court's decision, Hong can put the bribery scandal behind him and put all his focus on rebuilding the conservative party. The LKP has a lot of work to do to win back the voters' trust after the corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye. It is still uncertain whether Hong is the right person for this task due to his immature leadership style and lack of vision for new politics. He has often been criticized for his uncontrollable outbursts. After the Supreme Court's ruling, Hong continued to make inappropriate remarks against the ruling camp, the media and the prosecution. "I am relieved to be cleared of the false charge," Hong said after the ruling, "I will hold the prosecutors responsible for fabricating evidence against me."

   Hong should have first apologized for being linked to such a shameful scandal. He seems totally unaware that public opinion does not side with the Supreme Court's decision. Instead, Hong claimed on his Facebook page that the media and the news portals had become subservient to the Moon Jae-in administration. He alleged that the polling agencies were being manipulated in favor of the Moon administration.

He also made some very classless remarks about government's response to the recent fire at a fitness center in Jecheon. During a visit to the fire site Tuesday, Hong blasted the government's lack of attention to fire safety, saying that the Moon administration was probably too busy celebrating victory in the presidential election to properly carry out fire inspection. He also stressed that his party had no intention of using the accident politically. He claimed that the Moon administration's response to the fire was worse than the previous Park Geun-hye administration's response to the Sewol ferry sinking. "We will be closely watching how those who took power using the Sewol ferry sinking will handle the Jecheon incident," Hong wrote on Facebook. Such remarks are insensitive toward many people who are still grieving the Sewol victims and those who have been devastated by the Jecheon fire which killed 29 people.

As shown by the latest polls, public support for his party has been stuck in the 10 percent range, much lower than that of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea. Voters will turn their backs on the LKP in next year's local elections if Hong keeps up his haughty attitude and falls short of providing good alternatives to President Moon's populist policies.

(END)

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