[THE FOUNTAIN] Using and Abusing Power

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[THE FOUNTAIN] Using and Abusing Power

Confucius said that if a government leads people by law and order only and controls the state by punishment only, people will no longer think of honor but only about escaping punishment. When Confucius lived 2,500 years ago, people regarded escaping the grip of the law as being fortunate, just as modern people do. The saying of Confucius is a warning that if a state depends too much on governmental power, it will seriously injure public customs. The warning can be applied to recent trends.

The essence of governmental power is the police and the prosecution. The warrants issued by judicial police officers or prosecutors are a symbol of governmental power. Among various warrants, there are call-up cards to recruit young men who are obligated to serve in the military, and search warrants to inspect homes. But it is a warrant of arrest that frightens people most of all.

"Warrant," an English word, is said to have originated from a German word in the 14th century. The origin, werento, an ancient German word, meant a guardian. Since a guardian takes responsibility for the protected, the English word warrant also means "guarantee." The Constitution says that when the government arrests or confines a person or when it seizes or searches a person's property, it should do those things under relevant warrants. Accordingly, a warrant might restrict a person's basic rights and thus must not be issued recklessly.

The Criminal Procedure Code provides that a prosecutor or a judicial police officer can apply with a judge for a warrant to arrest a person only if there is proper reason to suspect the person of a crime and if there is possibility that the suspect would destroy evidence and would run away and if he has no fixed residence. But the rate of rejection to an application for a warrant of arrest, which averages about 30 percent, clearly shows the difference between the rule and the reality. There was news that an arrest warrant issued for a police officer who may have provided information about a son of President Kim Dae-jung to the opposition Grand National Party was rejected. The rejection was a natural result of the excessive execution of governmental power.

Confucius recommended that a government should control a state through virtue and decorum, instead of by laws and punishment. If a government leads people by virtue and controls by decorum, then people will learn honor and the country will have dignity.

Fair politics are not made through laws and punishment, but are made naturally, through leading by virtue and decorum.

The writer is the international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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