Speech stokes people’s anger

TW has been following the recent political development or rather scandal in Korea in which involved its incumbent president Park.  The woman president who is in a fix now is “patriotic” like our own former man MR in helping herself and helping her friends. Interested? Please read the following two news stories. 

Korea Times

By Kim Bo-eun, Kim Se-jeong

President Park Geun-hye’s address to the people Tuesday failed to quell public anger as her third apology was not seen as sincere in the eyes of most people.

In the nationally televised speech about the influence-peddling scandal surrounding her confidant Choi Soon-sil, Park implied that she believes she herself did not commit any wrongdoing and will not willingly step down.

The President’s remarks came even after the prosecution labeled her as an accomplice and criminal suspect in Choi’s extorting funds from conglomerates for Choi’s benefit and for letting her see state documents.

“I have never worked for my personal interest, but for the country and its people for the past 18 years since I became a lawmaker,” Park said. “The series of events that have occurred are a result of my pursuit of good for the nation. And I did not take the slightest bit of benefit during the process.”

This showed little change in her recognition of the scandal from the previous speech 25 days ago, when she also said that a few figures around her sought personal profit.

“Saying she only worked for the country and never pursued her own interests ― it’s remarkable how she has not changed one bit since the scandal broke out,” said Park Soo-yeon, a 26-year-old in Seoul.Image result for President Park Geun-hye on her political scandal

Graphic added by TW from internet

Another office worker surnamed Jin, 31, said, “I was absolutely shocked that she said she had never pursued her personal interest. How could she say that after all the media reports on massive corruption allegations?”

Ahn Jin-geol, secretary-general of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, said, “She is deceiving the people again with excuses. It was all clearly disclosed that Park is the main culprit, but she is still blaming others. Who will believe her?”

Park said she will leave it up to the National Assembly to decide on whether she should resign. The Assembly is moving to vote on an impeachment motion against Park as early as Friday.

The President said she would give a detailed explanation about the corruption allegations later, indicating she would allow questioning by an independent counsel who is set to start work in December. Opposition parties recommended two former prosecutors as candidates for the counsel ― lawyers Cho Seung-shik and Park Young-soo ― and the President must select one by Friday.

Many citizens said that referring the decision on resignation to the Assembly was just a tactic to buy time.

“She says it’s not her fault. And she says she’ll follow the Assembly’s decision concerning her fate. She doesn’t look like a leader at all,” said Suh Young-a, a graduate student from Daejeon.

“It is very irresponsible of her to leave her resignation up to the Assembly. It is as if she will merely sit there and watch lawmakers fight,” said Lee Min-soo, a 27-year-old office worker in Seoul.

The people still want the Assembly to push for her impeachment and have vowed to continue candlelit protests.

“What she seems to want is to move pro-impeachment lawmakers’ minds. Her speech makes me want to go to the rallies until she gets impeached,” Roh Jang-ho, 32, from Seoul, said. “Park can resist the Assembly’s decision just as she broke her promise to comply with the prosecution’s investigation.”

“I know the ruling Saenuri Party has something else in mind, but don’t forget that people are watching you,” a Facebook user surnamed Hong wrote on a news feed.

The President refused the prosecution’s final call for face-to-face questioning the previous day.

Prosecutors indirectly denounced Park’s comment that she promoted projects for the public good and did not seek anything for her personal benefit. “Please read the indictment documents of Choi and other figures involved,” a prosecutor said. In the documents, prosecutors stated that Park was an accomplice.

President should comply with judicial authorities

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People watch President Park Geun-hye’s televised address to the nation over a political scandal involving her and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil at Seoul Station, Tuesday. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
Kim Jae-kyoung

Robert Schwarz

SINGAPORE ― President Park Geun-hye should submit to questioning over allegations that she allowed her friend Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs and extort millions of dollars from conglomerates, according to a German expert on democracy and governance.

Robert Schwarz, a project manager at Bertelsmann Stiftung, a private research foundation based in Germany called for the prosecution to investigate President Park and her confidant Choi Soon-sil in a proper manner in order to get the country back on track.

“The scale of alleged crimes makes it hard to believe that people around the President had no clue. The investigation of Choi should be conducted properly and in due time,” he said in an interview.

“But it would be even more important that the President complies with the judicial authorities. The real scandal is that President Park gave someone like Choi access to the highest political and economic spheres of power in the first place.”

Citing her record low approval rating which fell to 4 percent last week, Schwarz said that President Park should step down as soon as possible.

At a speech to the public, Park made it clear Tuesday that she will not step down on her own. She said she will follow the National Assembly’s decision.

“If recent reports incriminating President Park of complicity with Choi’s actions prove true, I see no politically feasible alternative to her resignation,” he said.

He pointed out that delaying this will only buy her a few months time until the investigation against her opens.

“She has no political capital left worth clinging to power to until the very last day of her five-year term,” he said. “Whether she is personally capable of realizing this, is an entirely other matter.”

In order to fix the ongoing political mess and help the country move forward, he said that the political and economic elite should first win back trust.

“In the short term, the judicial fallout from the investigations into the political scandal, including those targeting the current president herself, should be respected,” he said.

He believes that any deals with potential successors allowing Park to escape judicial indictment would further damage public confidence in the political system.

“In the medium term, bipartisan agreement on constitutional reform curbing the power of the president is needed,” he added. “Finally, somebody else has to fulfill Park’s original campaign promise of economic democratization.”

Schwarz, who was previously a research fellow with the Korea Foundation, stressed that Park should take the candlelit protests more seriously.

“The massive rallies are a remarkable wake-up call for the country. A strong civil society is the backbone of Korean democracy, especially in times like these,” he said.

“Obviously it is one thing for people to mobilize against an incompetent president, but another thing to bridge interests and ideological differences across the political spectrum for a shared positive vision.”

Schwarz said Korea has taken a detour on its road toward full democratic consolidation.

“The corruption charges against some of President Park’s closest aides and involving senior big business leaders have exacerbated the already existing public distrust in political and economic institutions,” he said.

Since 2006, the research firm has released the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI), the only cross-nation index that analyzes and monitors the quality of democracy, the market economy and governance in 129 developing and transformation countries on a regular basis.

Schwarz pointed out that the quality of Korea’s democracy had been worsening before the Park administration, citing the 2016 BTI.

“We have noted a decline of certain democratic qualities since the Lee administration took office in 2008,” he said.

“This concerns a wide array of issues ranging from government meddling with staffing policies of TV broadcasters to the National Intelligence Service’s (NIS) interference in the previous presidential election,” he added. “In light of these developments, many Koreans disapprove of existing democratic institutions.”

The BTI assessments are based on country reports authored by 250 experts from top international universities and think tanks.

In its 2016 report on South Korea, the firm highlighted President Park’s non-delivery on campaign promises and insufficient policy communication as negative governance results, and the limitation of democratic and civil rights.

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