Scan­dal widens as two Park aides ar­rested

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SOUTH Korean pros­e­cu­tors ar­rested two for­mer top pres­i­den­tial aides yes­ter­day in a snow­balling in­flu­ence-ped­dling scan­dal which has seen tens of thou­sands of peo­ple take to the streets to de­mand that Pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye re­sign.

Ms Park’s ap­proval rat­ings have hit a his­toric low of 5 per­cent – a record for a sit­ting pres­i­dent – over the scan­dal in­volv­ing her close per­sonal friend Choi Soon-sil.

Ms Choi has been ar­rested for fraud and also stands ac­cused of med­dling in state af­fairs – in­clud­ing govern­ment ap­point­ments and pol­icy de­ci­sions.

Ahn Jong-beom, a for­mer se­nior ad­viser to Ms Park, was for­mally ar­rested yes­ter­day on charges of abuse of power and at­tempted co­er­cion, the Yon­hap news agency re­ported.

He is sus­pected of help­ing Ms Choi col­lect mil­lions of dol­lars in do­na­tions from con­glom­er­ates like Sam­sung to two du­bi­ous non-profit foun­da­tions which Ms Choi set up and al­legedly used for per­sonal gain.

Mr Ahn, who has been in cus­tody since Novem­ber 2 af­ter step­ping down late last month said he would “take re­spon­si­bil­ity for as­sist­ing the pres­i­dent badly”, Yon­hap re­ported.

Pros­e­cu­tors also ar­rested Jeong Ho-seong, an­other for­mer pres­i­den­tial aide, over al­le­ga­tions that he leaked clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

The 47-year-old Mr Jeong, who was known as Ms Park’s right-hand man and has as­sisted her since 1998, is sus­pected of pass­ing of­fi­cial doc­u­ments to Ms Choi.

Ms Park has been scram­bling to re­store trust in her ad­min­is­tra­tion amid the deep­en­ing cri­sis, reshuf­fling min­is­ters and se­nior ad­vis­ers to bring in fig­ures from out­side her rul­ing con­ser­va­tive Saenuri Party.

What­ever tran­spires, the very per­sonal na­ture of the scan­dal has se­verely un­der­mined Ms Park’s abil­ity to gov­ern, turn­ing her into the lamest of lame-duck lead­ers at a time of slow­ing eco­nomic growth, ris­ing unem­ploy­ment and el­e­vated mil­i­tary ten­sions with North Korea. –

Photo: AFP

For­mer pres­i­den­tial aide Ahn Jong­beom sits in a po­lice van fol­low­ing his ar­rest in Seoul yes­ter­day.

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