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[Editorial] Unite in times of crisis

Hard to accept argument that ruling party should embrace its suspended leader

The governing People Power Party fell in a great confusion as the court granted its former leader Lee Jun-seok’s request for an injunction to invalidate the party’s decision to go into an emergency mode and suspended the leader of its emergency council.

The party is teetering again after its National Assembly members at their general meeting resolved to seek a further disciplinary action against Lee and form a new emergency council while keeping Kweon Seong-dong as floor leader to manage the creation of the counciil. Some National Assembly members of the party are openly opposing its resolutions.

Rep. Kim Byong-wook of the party wrote a Facebook post to the effect that the key point of the court ruling is to guarantee Lee’s status as party leader. He said, “How can the party embrace the people when it cannot embrace just one person, who is Lee Jun-seok?”

Rep. Choe Jae-hyeong, who was chair of the Board of Audit and Inspection under former President Moon Jae-in, said that issues surrounding the injunction happened not because Lee’s condemnation of President Yoon Suk-yeol, but because the party effectively dismissed him by forming an emergency council without justification.

Rep. Ha Tae-keung called the conclusions of the meeting absurd. Lawmaker Kim Woong called for the invalidation of the current emergency system and the restoration of a supreme council system, which Lee now apparently wants.

Yoon Sang-hyun, a fourth-time lawmaker of the party, said that a new leadership of the party should “tone down” Lee and reconcile President Yoon and Lee.

Yoo Seung-min, a former lawmaker of the party who is regarded as potential contender for leader, said that it was pathetic to maintain an emergency council system and seek an additional disciplinary action against Lee.

Lee is suspected of sexual misconduct. An argument that the party should embrace him or reconcile Yoon and Lee is hard to accept. He allegedly received bribes including sex services and tried to cover up the allegations by sending his aide to the person accusing him of sexual bribery to obtain a statement that no sex bribes had been offered to Lee, in exchange for a promise to invest 700 million won ($519,000) as the accuser demanded.

He was suspended for six months by the ethics panel of the party in July for his alleged attempt to make his aide destroy evidence.

If a politician with a sense of honor, particularly a party leader, becomes the talk of such sex scandal, usually he or she would resign. But Lee did not and tried to hide the traces of the scandal. He has not apologized and has avoided mentioning it.

Furthermore, despite being responsible for the party, Lee put President Yoon and the party in a fix. The lawmakers sympathetic or favorable to Lee were silent when he condemned insiders of the party and cursed the party and President Yoon. They seem to be coming out to show they are on Lee’s side, now that the party moves to effectively oust him. An additional disciplinary action will likely be either a recommendation to leave the party voluntarily or expulsion. If Lee does not accept the recommendation within a certain period, he will be automatically expelled.

If a party had been humiliated by the court’s grant of an injunction to invalidate its internal decision, its members must try to overcome the crisis in unison.

To many members of the party and its supporters, Lee crossed the Rubicon River by inordinately embarrassing Yoon and the party. Even if he should be allowed to come back to the party, most lawmakers of it and those who hope for the success of the Yoon administration will turn their backs on him.
In a serious crisis like this, everyone in the party must work together to overcome its emergency state one step at a time.

By Korea Herald (