[EDITORIALS]President Kim's albatrossThe prosecutors have been forsaken by everybody. Even President Kim Dae-jung directly criticized the inability of the prosecutors. The people, who have considered the prosecutors, the government and the president as a united body, were puzzled at Mr. Kim's fierce criticism of the prosecutors. The prosecutors, who have done their best to stand with the political power and have undergone various hardships, probably feel nonplussed at the criticism, but they would not admit it easily.
"From the time this administration was launched, I have emphasized that the country will stand tall only when the prosecutors work justly," said President Kim. "However, it is with great regret that I cannot say that goal has been achieved." The people agree with such criticism.
"Because the prosecutors failed to perform fairly, the government has suffered the consequences," Mr. Kim said. That argument is not convincing; it is possible that Mr. Kim's criticism can be seen as a move to blame the prosecutors for misgovernment.
The president, government and prosecutors share a common destiny. In a country with a presidential system, the president, the government and the prosecutors can never be dealt with separately. President Kim's reprimand indicates that the prosecutors failed to respect the president's will. In his rebuke, Mr. Kim hinted that he had advised the prosecutors to investigate fairly, but the prosecutors failed to do so.
Still, Mr. Kim holds great responsibility for the wrongdoings of the prosecutors and their ruined reputations. The president has the right to appoint prosecutors, and senior prosecutors have often served as presidential secretaries. Mr. Kim, in fact, supervised and led the prosecutors under such a system. Mr. Kim's public reprimand of the prosecutors can harm the president himself, which hints at his lack of understanding of the current situation.
After studying the affairs surrounding the prosecutors since this administration began, it has become clear that the president has avoided his responsibilities. The people have said that personnel appointments within the prosecution were made based on hometown-affiliates, because the core prosecution posts were taken by officials from the Jeolla provinces, Mr. Kim's home area.
Prosecutors appointed by the president have been involved in one scandal after another. Shin Seung-nam, prosecutor general, and Kim Tae-joung and Ahn Dong-su, justice ministers, stepped down from their posts before their terms ended. Shin Kwang-ok, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, and Park Joo-sun, presidential legal affairs secretary, were arrested on charges of being associated with scandals. All of these events were due to inappropriate personnel appointments and the president is responsible for all of these failures.
A crisis can be an opportunity. The new prosecutor general should consider the president's criticism of the prosecutors as a stepping-stone for the organization's independence. The prosecutors should renew their determination to reform. The prosecution should not rely on political power nor should it favor politicians. The prosecutors should know that soliciting special favors from politicians whenever a reshuffle occurs spoils the prosecution.
From now on, the independence of the prosecution and their political neutrality is crucial. A reshuffle in the prosecution will soon follow, since a new prosecutor general has been appointed; the outcome will serve as a test of the prosecution's determination.