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A laughable law (KOR)

Apr 25,2019
Criticism is deepening over a bill meant to establish a special investigative body for senior government officials. The ruling Democratic Party and three minor opposition parties — excluding the main opposition Liberty Korea Party — earlier this week agreed to put the bill on a “fast track.” But it has ended up being pointless despite its original goal of rooting out corruption involving the president’s relatives, ministers and deputy ministers of the government, and lawmakers. After making it one of his major campaign promises, President Moon Jae-in has ardently championed the idea since taking office in May 2017.

But the bill lost most of its substance in the process of political bargaining over electoral reforms, as it confines the scope of indictments allowed under the new law to judges, prosecutors and high-ranking police officers after exempting the president’s relatives and lawmakers. As a result, it cannot indict them even when they are involved in a massive scandal related to abuse of power. Some pundits ridicule the bill as “a paper tiger.”

The National Assembly has triggered public outrage by excluding its own members from being indicted. Lawmakers can hardly avoid criticism for their lack of ethics and arbitrary use of their legislative rights. We wonder whether they really embody the spirit of noblesse oblige — or even know what that means!

The legislature came under attack in 2015 when lawmakers enacted an antigraft law. They excluded themselves from punishment for shady deals such as taking bribes or accepting illegal solicitations. Their selfishness only helped the antigraft law fail to take root in our society. We are disappointed to see their hypocrisy made manifest once again.

We can’t comprehend the reactions of the Blue House and ruling party after their agreement to put the half-baked act on a fast track. Democratic Party floor leader Hong Young-pyo said that the bill allows the new law enforcement body to indict as many as 5,100 judges, prosecutors and high-level police officers out of its more than 7,000 targets and also allows the new body to request courts to reconsider the prosecution’s decision to not indict the president’s relatives and lawmakers.

We are embarrassed to see the ruling party’s stupidity. There are widespread rumors that the four parties hurriedly struck a political deal to have the upper hand in passing electoral reforms. The act on the new investigative body should be scrapped.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 25, Page 30