Park resignation a must for S Korea’s economic growth


The embattled Korean President Park Geun-hye defies pressure to resign. But the scandal-hit Park is ready to accept the result of looming and possibly lengthy impeachment process.
The scandal that has served a body blow to Park and crippled the government pertains to her friendship with long-time confidante Choi Soon-Sil.
Dubbed as female Rasputin, Choi has been charged with meddling in state affairs. She used her proximity to and influence over Park to force dozens of conglomerates to donate around $70 million to two foundations she controlled.
The influence-peddling scandal that has shaken South Korea for weeks heads to climax.
The opposition-sponsored impeachment motion is almost certain to be adopted by the national assembly on Friday. More than 30 rebel MPs from Park’s Saenuri party are likely to vote in favour.
The entire impeachment process is quite a lengthy affair. The motion adopted by the national assembly will go for approval to the Constitutional Court. The court’s deliberations can take up to six months. If the court agrees, a presidential election would be held in 60 days, with the prime minister staying on as interim leader.
Park cannot be charged with a criminal offence except insurrection or treason till she holds the office. But she would lose that immunity once she leaves office.
“Even if the impeachment bill is passed, I am resolved to continue calmly for the country and the people, while watching the Constitutional Court procedures,” Park was quoted as saying by Saenuri parliamentary floor leader Chung Jin-Suk.
The party had offered that president park would leave the office voluntarily in April. It further infuriated Korean people. The protesters said it was aimed at buying Park time and avoiding impeachment.
Keeping in mind the public sentiment, Saenuri party withdrew that proposal for Park to step down voluntarily in April.
The stage is now set for the impeachment vote on Friday. Success by the opposition could pacify the anti-Park protests that have been swelling by the week in Seoul. If she survives the vote, the demonstrators may return, growing increasingly frustrated as the country limps along through political uncertainty.
Park exhausted her options after her apologies failed to make a difference. Still she is clinging to the hope that she may survive the court case.
Six of the nine judges have to agree for her to be removed from power. Park refuses to accept that she has committed any wrongdoing. Instead, she blamed her associates for what prosecutors called a scheme to extract tens of millions of dollars from top companies.
What makes Park a lesser evil is that she feels responsible for the turmoil and remained willing to follow a ruling party proposal for her to step down in April. But, the opposition and a faction of her party plan to go ahead with an impeachment vote regardless of whether she resigns in April.
The Korean economy is facing headwinds including the prospect of faster inflation and interest-rate increases in the US, along with concern President-elect Donald Trump will adopt a protectionist trade policy when he takes office in January.
The scandal has halted a lot of government work. It has taken its toll on the country’s trade and commerce.
The faster South Korea divests itself of Park regime the better. Park’s resignation will clear the way for a new government to come in and revive the economy that’s struggled to sustain 3 percent growth in recent years after regularly exceeding 4 percent last decade.

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