Answering critics, Lee will donate most of his assets
Rivals call front-runner’s pledge ‘a shallow attempt to buy votes’
If this guy meets his promise though, I don’t care what the rivals think…the action should be enough. The other thing that stands out for me is that he did this AFTER the BBK scandal was cleared. If it was before, I would be more skeptical.
Originally published here: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2883674
Battered by critics who accuse him of being corrupt, Lee Myung-bak vowed yesterday to donate nearly everything he owns to charity, the Grand National Party said in a press release.
“A house for me and my wife to live in is more than enough. Other than that, I will donate the rest. I want it to be used for the needy people,” Lee said, according to a draft of his speech released last night before its scheduled airing on KBS television.
Lee, who led Hyundai Engineering and Construction during its heyday and was mayor of Seoul from 2002 to 2006, has declared that he owns 35.38 billion won ($38.5 million) in assets, according to the National Election Commission.
As required by law, Lee listed the details of his assets when he officially registered as a presidential candidate on Nov. 26. The list includes a building in Seocho-dong worth 12 billion won, land worth 9 billion won in the neighborhood and another building worth 6.8 billion won in Yangjae-dong. Lee also owns a house in Nonhyeon-dong worth more than 4 billion won.
Lee vowed to keep his promise even if he loses the election.
Holding a huge lead in the polls, Lee has been attacked by political rivals for being corrupt. He has admitted falsifying his address and falsely claiming to have employed his children in one of his businesses.
Prosecutors on Wednesday cleared Lee of any involvement in a massive investment fraud allegedly committed by his one-time business partner.
“After finishing my long career as a businessman and becoming a public servant a decade ago, I decided not to give my wealth to my children as an inheritance,” Lee said in his speech. “That position has not changed.”
Lee said he will consult with others about where to donate the money. Grand National spokeswoman Na Kyung-won said the decision will be made after the presidential election, adding that Lee made his choice a long time ago. He will donate about 90 percent of what he owns, Na said.
Lee’s political rivals sneered at the announcement, questioning his real motive. “I wonder why Lee has decided to donate his money on the eve of the presidential election,” said Kim Hyun-mi, spokeswoman for United New Democratic Party presidential candidate Chung Dong-young. “Lee’s proposal is a shallow attempt to buy votes.”
Lee Hye-yeon, a spokeswoman for Lee Hoi-chang, said the move by the front-runner “is a last resort to soothe people who were disappointed and angered by his lack of ethics and corruption. It is nothing more than another Lee Myung-bak attempt to conduct a final backdoor deal with the nation.”
She also urged Lee Myung-bak to make public the accurate amount of his assets, claiming that he must have more hidden wealth.
One of Lee Hoi-chang’s aides, however, worried that the promise will affect the race. “The people generally hate Lee Myung-bak because they think he is trying to have both power and money at the same time,” the source said, on condition of anonymity. “But now he has decided to give up the money. It will influence the undecided voters.”
By Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter/ Ko Jung-ae JoongAng Ilbo [firstname.lastname@example.org]