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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on March 1)

All Headlines 09:03 March 01, 2016

Clear up the conspiracy

Politics is the art of dealing with conflicts of interest and values. That calls for trust among concerned parties. But the horrific noises emanating from the ruling Saenuri Party's nomination process ahead of the April 13 general election simply leaves us dumbfounded.

Following all the mud fights in the ruling camp over how to replace incumbent lawmakers with fresh faces, a bombshell allegation has been made by Rep. Chung Doo-un, a lawmaker with no affiliation to President Park Geun-hye. He claims he heard from Chairman Kim Moo-sung - also classified as outside the group loyal to Park - that a core member of the pro-Park group conveyed to Kim a "hit list" of 40 lawmakers the president allegedly wants to change. After Chung told the story to Nomination Committee Chairman Lee Hahn-koo - a core pro-Park member - Lee demanded Chairman Kim explain his accusation. In Monday's Supreme Committee meeting, an attempt to question both Chung and Kim failed, probably out of fear that a filthy internal struggle would be exposed.

The ruling party must say who is telling the truth or if the claim was exaggerated. Without clearing up the confusion, the party cannot ease deepening internal distrust nor make its lawmakers accept why they are not nominated if that is the case. Chairman Kim asserted he had never received such a list from anybody.

The Saenuri Party's nomination committee is conducting interviews with aspiring candidates, followed by a process of screening out unqualified candidates, selecting districts for "strategic nominations" and holding primaries in constituencies across the nation. But if the existence of a hit list is true, the party has totally lost any fairness, transparency or credibility in its nomination process.

After the controversy arose, Chairman Kim explained that the list was nothing but a rumor. Yet, he must be held accountable for conveying such an unconfirmed - and destructive - rumor to his colleague. Chung, chairman of the National Defense Committee, is not free from criticism that he made public what he heard without considering the consequences.

Kim and Chung may be seeking a common interest through the revelation of the list, because if the pro-Park faction led by Nomination Committee Chairman Lee really decides not to nominate the 40 incumbent lawmakers - including Chung - that proves the existence of the list. The committee may not dare drop Kim and Chung.

Conspiracies may benefit a certain faction, but they also destroy trust in politics. Voters are watching carefully.
(END)

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