Make wise appointmentsThe term of the incumbent prosecutor general will expire on Nov. 23, and the head of the National Police Agency will end his term on Feb. 9, 2008.
Controversy is growing over whether the president, whose term will also expire soon, should appoint the next prosecutor general and the next police chief. The Grand National Party points out that if the incumbent president appoints heads of government agencies with strong political power during a presidential campaign, the neutrality of government officials in the election might be damaged.
They also say the heads of major government branches should be appointed by the next president.
They have a point. As seen in the investigation of the real estate properties of presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak, prosecutors raised suspicion that they made a political move. There is no guarantee that it will not happen again.
The prosecutor general appointed this time will work one year and nine months with the next administration. Those hoping to win the next presidential election would rather work with a prosecutor general of their own choosing than one selected by the outgoing president.
That idea is based on the strong suspicion that the independence of prosecutors, particularly the prosecutor general, may be influenced by the president who appoints them. Previous administrations have long generated such distrust.
However, now is the time to end the distrust and doubt.
We should first uphold the terms guaranteed for the prosecutor general. If anything suspicious happens, the public and the media can survey the situation.
The current president should name the next prosecutor general, but the president should select a neutral person who can wipe out the concerns of the past.
The nominee must act prudently at every step, taking into account the concerns of society while protecting the values and trust of an independent prosecutor.
The remaining term of the president is not decisive in this matter.
Those who desire to be the next president must make a wise decision on this matter.
If they insist to have their selection as the prosecutor general, it creates the perception that a prosecutor general is dependent on presidential power.
The prosecutor general should serve the nation, not the president.