[EDITORIALS]A poor anti-corruption plan

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[EDITORIALS]A poor anti-corruption plan

The Uri Party decided to push for legislation to establish an independent body to investigate corruption of high-level public servants at next month’s National Assembly session, but the Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry pointed out some problems and demanded a revision of the plan.
The Justice Ministry in particular told the Assembly’s judiciary and legislative committee that the plan may be unconstitutional. The ministry said if the agency were assigned under the Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption, a presidential body, the National Assembly would not have control over it, thus it would lack a constitutional grounding.
As we have pointed out repeatedly, creating a new investigative body is unnecessary. If the investigative arm were directly controlled by the president, it would be like giving him a new weapon. That would violate the separation of powers principle, and presidential authority would become excessive, many people fear. When the agency’s political neutrality is questioned, the public will lose confidence in the outcome of investigations.
The nation hopes to build a transparent society by rooting out corruption. But, politicians and public servants have been corrupt not because there was no watchdog. When the Blue House operated its famous “Sajikdong Team” to monitor public officials, their corruption continued.
Some in the Uri Party said the new investigative arm is necessary to check powerful judges and prosecutors. If so, will they establish another watchdog if the new investigative body becomes too powerful?
Some Uri Party lawmakers are trying to make the issue a screening standard for the candidates for the prosecutor-general’s post, and that is simply wrong. Priority should be given to the candidate’s ability to maintain the independence and neutrality of the prosecution. But the lawmakers said that they would question the designate at a confirmation hearing about the issue to test his or her willingness to reform. That is far from the true nature of the issue.
It is undesirable to see the Uri Party and the Blue House pushing for the body even at the risk of creating controversy over its constitutionality. The prosecution is gaining public confidence ― a rare but welcome development. Therefore, creating a new watchdog must be decided after carefully reviewing its legality and effectiveness.
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