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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Feb. 22)

All News 09:17 February 22, 2020

Fanning fears for votes
Debates should be based on science, not personal biases

The floor leader of the main opposition United Future Party (UFP), Rep. Shim Jae-cheol, has vowed to push for the impeachment of President Moon Jae-in, if the UFP wins the most seats in the April 15 general election.

Shim raised this idea apparently to drum up support from conservative voters ahead of the election, but it only represents the extreme and irresponsible views of some radical party members who are still sympathetic toward the impeached former President Park Geun-hye. It is a dangerous attempt to use ideological divisions for the election. It only polarizes society, causes political instability and will benefit no one in the end.

This is all the more so because President Moon has not been found to have committed any serious wrongdoings while in office, although the way he governs the nation has indeed been a point of dispute between liberal and conservative parties. Rep. Shim and the UFP should realize mentioning impeachment at this stage will never work; it rather endangers the party's election campaign.

Rep. Shim cited Moon's "dictatorship, election meddling, failed prosecution reform, economic policy failures" and so on as the reasons he should be impeached. Particularly, he said he will continue to call the new coronavirus that originated in Wuhan in central China "Wuhan Pneumonia" instead of COVID-19, the name recommended by the World Health Organization and the government, claiming Moon's "kowtowing" to China in dealing with the virus has worsened the situation in South Korea. The party has consistently urged the government to expand its travel ban to block Chinese from entering Korea as a way to curb the spread of the virus.

"The past three years of Moon's presidency has been an era of disasters for this nation. April 15 will be the 'Judgment Day' for his incompetence and arrogance," Rep. Shim told CBS Radio, Wednesday.

What is awful is the party is apparently using deep-rooted bias among Koreans toward Chinese and rising virus fears here as means to win the election. As the virus is spreading nationwide, it cannot be ruled out that the government's response to the outbreak could become a major factor for voters to consider. A UFP member who is seeking to run in Daegu, where cases of the coronavirus have surged the past few days, is even campaigning on the streets holding a placard which reads, "The Moon Jae-in Pneumonia is killing Daegu citizens." He claimed the virus hit Daegu because the Moon administration has avoided implementing an entry ban on all Chinese.

Whether the government has properly handled the outbreak is a good topic of debate. Such debates will be helpful for voters in choosing a candidate to support. But they should be healthy and sound, based on science, not on fake news or personal biases.

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