What will tennis-gate end up costing Lee Myung-bak?
At lot, if Our Open Party (Uri) has anything to say about it:
South Korea's ruling Uri Party on Monday criticized Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak for his alleged involvement in a free tennis scandal.
The mayor is dogged by allegations that he used city-owned tennis courts in Seoul between 2003 and 2005 without paying the court rental fee in full.
The governing party's own investigative committee, launched last week to look into the scandal, started its investigation on Monday by visiting tennis courts owned by the city government that were allegedly used exclusively by the mayor, including a tennis court on Mount Nam in central Seoul that was reportedly kept virtually off limits to the general public and reserved for the Mayor's exclusive use on weekends and at other peak times.
"We will even seek a government probe into the matter if necessary," said Woo Won-shik, who is leading the committee of lawmakers from the Uri Party.
This is a classic:
Kim Han-gill, the floor leader of the party, also denounced the mayor for his transgressions, saying, "Mayor Lee needs to immigrate to another country and give up his seat if the allegations turn out to be true." (emphasis added)
Lee, who build an image as a reformer during his time as Seoul Mayor, led all other potential candidates in resent polls for the 2008 presidential election. It is too early to tell how much this will hurt Lee (not too much, unless there is more to it than this) but it can't be good.
And the winner in this scandal is....
Goh-kun who is maneuvering himself to be the acceptable alternative for people who cannot bring themselves to vote for Park Gun-hye or Chung Dong-young. Lee is also seen as relatively moderate and had shown the same cross-over appeal that Goh has. If this knocks Lee out of the running, Goh will have the middle to himself (at least for a while). Goh's squeaky-clean image is also enhanced when compared to the scandal-plagued major parties.
(BTW, with the local elections coming up in May, I am sure we will see a few more scandals break out.)