[EDITORIALS]Lobbying by the top copsPolice executives allegedly lobbied the opposition party against introducing a bill demanding the resignation of the minister of government administration and home affairs, Kim Doo-gwan. According to Grand National Party representatives, police chiefs, using regional or academic networks, called or personally visited local representatives and tried to persuade them that the bill was inappropriate.
The police explained that they had e-mailed district police agency chiefs and local station heads about the illegal demonstration by the banned student organization Hanchongryun, and that the executives were to use the material only for reference in discussions with opinion leaders in their jurisdictions. Mr. Kim said that he did not ask the police chiefs to help him out, and he thinks asking such favors is not proper.
The denial does not clear the police of the charge of lobbying. The e-mail was sent on Aug. 13, and the timing looks like more than a coincidence. About then the opposition party began discussing steps to demand Mr. Kim’s resignation over the illegal, blitz demonstration of Hanchongryun. The opposition floor leader Hong Sa-duk admits that some representatives were approached by police executives who wanted to talk them out of supporting the bill. The police side of the story may not be completely trustworthy.
We have already pointed out that the opposition party’s move may be imprudent, since the minister of government administration and home affairs is not in a position to oversee and control general police affairs. For the police, who are directly accountable for the regrettable intrusion into a U.S. military facility, not to come forward to take responsibility for their lapse but instead lobby to save the minister is alarming. When a local police chief, who is in charge of information collection and investigation, asks for help, a lawmaker inevitably will feel pressured. Police executives in effect used their law enforcement authority to influence a vote on national affairs. They abdicated their political neutrality.
The police must investigate the case by region and make the results public ― and they must stop abusing its power.