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Ban Ki-moon sends strong signal about presidential bid

  • Yeo Jun-suk

    The Korea Herald/ANN

Seoul | Thu, December 22, 2016 | 02:53 pm
Ban Ki-moon sends strong signal about presidential bid United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives to deliver his speech at the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership In Asia Public Lecture Series Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 in Singapore. Ban will meet with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday. (AP/Wong Maye-E)

United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday pledged to devote his life to the advancement of South Korea, sending the strongest signal yet that he might run in next year’s presidential election. 

“If what I have learned, seen and felt during my 10-year service as UN secretary-general could help advance Korea, I am more than willing to sacrifice myself for this cause,” said Ban during a farewell press meeting with Korean reporters. His term ends on December 31. 

Though Ban has not clarified his bid for the 2017 presidential race -- only saying that he has been “giving much thought” to the plan -- the career diplomat’s remarks were widely viewed as his strongest declaration for a presidential bid since he first hinted about the plan in May this year. 

When asked about which political parties he would represent, Ban highlighted that he would not be bound by establishment political groups, saying that “political parties are not important” and that “political leaders must think beyond themselves.” 

Such remarks added speculation that Ban — once considered to be a favourite for President Park Geun-hye and her loyalists from the governing Saenuri Party — would distance himself from the pro-Park faction whose approval ratings have plunged to a record-low amid the corruption and nepotism scandal tied to the president. 

Some centrist political groups, meanwhile, have been urging Ban to join them in the hopes that Ban would expand their pool of supporters and energise moderate voters. Among them are Saenuri bigwigs critical of Park and leaders from the centrist People’s Party. 

“I think Ban could work with us,” said Rep. Kim Dong-chul, a leader of the People’s Party on Wednesday. “Ban has a sufficient amount of experience for dealing with state affairs. We agree with his commitment to using such experience for the nation.” 

Since the Choi Soon-sil scandal first made headlines in October, Ban has stepped up criticism against the president for creating what he views as “the worst political turmoil” and for showing complete lack of governance during the crisis. 

During Tuesday’s remarks, Ban said that while his criticism did not target specific political groups — such as President Park and her loyalists — the current political turmoil should be blamed for the current lack of leadership and governing system. 

Ban also defended himself against accusations by the main opposition Democratic Party that he had “betrayed” late President Roh Moo-hyun, who had elected him as head of the Foreign Ministry and campaigned for his bid to become UN chief in 2006. 

“I have always thanked President Roh for tapping me as a presidential aide, minister of foreign affairs and UN secretary general. Every New Year’s Day, I have called Roh’s spouse and paid a tribute to him,” said Ban. 

Democratic Party, however, showed Wednesday their disapproval of Ban’s potential bid at the 2017 election, urging the UN chief to stay away from Korean politics and focus on finishing his term. 

“I don’t think it is desirable for Ban to think about entering politics,” said Rep. Choo Mi-ae, leader of the Democratic Party. “Since South Korea’s global reputation has taken a hit due to the Choi Soon-sil scandal, I hope Ban will just wrap up and finish his job on a sound note.” 


This article appeared on The Korea Herald newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post
 

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