Ruling party spokesman offers to quit over nomination scandal
The spokesman of the ruling Saenuri Party offered to resign Saturday, holding himself responsible for recent chaos over an alleged money-for-nomination scandal.
The party has been engulfed in a potentially explosive scandal where Rep. Hyun Young-hee allegedly became a lawmaker on a proportional representation ticket after giving 300 million won (US$265,000) to Hyun Ki-hwan, then a member of the party's nomination committee, ahead of April's general elections.
While both have flatly denied the allegations, a prosecution investigation is under way into the case. Hyun, the former committee member, voluntarily appeared before prosecutors for questioning on Friday, with Rep. Hyun also vowing to face questioning, without elaborating on a specific time frame.
"Somebody should take responsibility and offer an apology to the people, but we cannot have our party's leading candidate do so after she has already sacrificed herself twice when the party was in crisis," Spokesman Kim Young-woo said during a press conference, referring to Saenuri's primary presidential contender Rep. Park Geun-hye.
The suspicions, if proven true, would deal a serious blow to the party and Park who was then chief of the party.
"So I, an unworthy man, have to do that, as I was the party's vice secretary and now serve as a spokesman."
But Kim reiterated the necessity of holding the party's primary race as scheduled, rebuking the move by the party's three other presidential contenders to boycott the primary elections.
On Friday, the three hopefuls -- Yim Tae-hee, a former chief of staff to President Lee Myung-bak, Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo and former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Tae-ho -- pledged to temporarily boycott the primary after the party's leadership rejected their demand for party chairman Hwang Woo-yea's resignation.
The ruling party is scheduled to select its presidential nominee at its national convention on Aug. 20.
The party's election committee chief also criticized their move, and expressed his will to go ahead with plans for the primary race.
"The race schedule is set according to the party's constitution. Destroying it is going against the public," he said, instructing officials "to make full preparations for the plans including candidates' joint speech session" set to be held in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)