[EDITORIALS]Kang’s inappropriate remarksIt was inappropriate that Kang Gum-sil, minister of justice, mentioned Sunday that the National Assembly should withdraw the impeachment of the president. She also said that Goh Kun, the acting president, should veto the amnesty bill revised by the Assembly. The opposition parties are reacting strongly to her remarks, demanding investigations, since they can affect the upcoming elections.
Judging from the circumstance under which Ms. Kang made the remarks in question, there are aspects where her intentions were misinterpreted. At an informal meeting with journalists, she was asked whether the impeachment could be withdrawn.
Noting that it was her personal opinion, she responded, “It is necessary to study the possibility. If it is possible, it is most appropriate that the National Assembly withdraw the impeachment.”
This is not what a cabinet member should say at a time when the Constitutional Court’s deliberation is near. The constitution does not specify the procedure for withdrawing an impeachment. This is a subtle issue. It was not discreet for her to mention it, even as a personal view.
Her remark on the scope of the acting president’s power was not proper either. It is true that some people suggest that the acting president, as a caretaker, does not have the power to shuffle the cabinet and appoint government personnel. Since there is no clause on it in the constitution, however, such opinions are nothing but theories.
Despite that, the highest official of the Justice Ministry made such a blunt remark, confusing the government position.
While the National Intelligence Service’s investigation of Song Du-yul, a Korean-German scholar, was going on in September, Ms. Kang made a comment doubting the punishment of Mr. Song. She said, “As high-level officials of the North and the South exchange visits, even if Mr. Song is Kim Cheol-su [an alternate member of the Politburo of the North Korean Workers’ Party], how can we punish him?” Her remark prompted debate because it could affect the investigation.
Now, we are in a national emergency situation. At a time like this, cabinet members should be more discreet in their words and deeds.