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Accept a special probe

May 08,2018
The tough negotiation between the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Monday over putting the operation of the National Assembly back on track went down the drain again. Both parties have not yet had a plenary session even after they convened an extraordinary session of the legislature over a month ago.

If such a tug of war continues over the introduction of a bill aimed at launching a special investigation of the so-called Druking scandal involving a ruling party lawmaker in an online public opinion manipulation campaign, both parties will most likely waste time bickering over the bill in May, too. In a nutshell, the DP must accept the opposition’s demand for a special probe into the online opinion manipulation scheme.

It is fortunate that the ruling party shifted its position from a steadfast rejection of a special investigation to an accommodation with strings attached. The DP counterproposed to the LKP that it can accept a special probe if the opposition agrees to the idea of putting the special investigation bill and a supplementary budget bill to a vote at the same time. The ruling party also demanded that it retain the right to veto an independent counsel recommended by the opposition. Such conditions are nothing but a manifestation of an intent to not accept a special investigation of the case.

First of all, it does not make sense to link the investigation bill to a supplementary budget bill which calls for a 3.9 trillion won ($3.6 billion) budget to create jobs. Second, the supplementary bill itself is controversial due to uncertainties over whether creating jobs with tax money would be sustainable. Opposition parties are also attacking the plan as it aims, they claim, to curry favor with voters ahead of the June 13 local elections.

The police’s investigation of the Druking scandal fell short. Their critical lack of determination to get to the bottom of the case has triggered the opposition’s call for a special probe to prevent the government from further wasting national resources. As both the lawmaker in question, Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo, and the Blue House claim his innocence, the ruling party must accept the opposition’s call for a special investigation.

It is time to normalize the operations of the National Assembly. A whopping 9,628 bills are pending, including seven bills directly connected to the people’s livelihoods. We urge both parties to reach an agreement to break the deadlock before it is too late.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 8, Page 30