Too close for comfortWhile in Daejeon to conduct inspections of agencies, members of the National Assembly’s Science, Technology, Information and Telecommunications Committee reportedly received improper entertainment. Lawmakers and aides were treated to dinner at restaurants that cost several million won (thousands of dollars). Suspicions have even arisen that a couple of lawmakers were offered prostitutes.
The chairman and other members of the committee claim that excessive entertainment and prostitutes were not involved. The chairman even called for an investigation in an attempt to clear his name.
The prosecution must swiftly conduct an investigation and reveal the truth. If suspicions turn out to be true, the committee members must be punished by law.
The National Assembly had already smudged its honor before this case occurred. The Unified New Democratic Party took advantage of this National Assembly’s audit to attack Lee Myung-bak, the Grand National Party’s presidential candidate.
This defeats the original purpose of the audit, to keep the administration in check. When the ruling party’s circle and the opposition party raise suspicions about presidential candidates, the administration’s incompetence and corruption are put aside.
The people have rightly criticized the National Assembly’s audit for this reason. Lawmakers should have been more careful.
There have been plenty of cases in which lawmakers have over indulged and caused trouble. But the members of the committee should have refrained from drinking too much if they were eating dinner with the staff of the government agency they were inspecting. They should have also paid the bill. But instead they drank shots of beer and whiskey, may have been offered prostitutes and let the staff of the agency pay the bills.
This is nothing new for lawmakers, who consort with the employees of government agencies under inspection and forget their duties. Last September, members of the judiciary committee ate and drank with senior members of the prosecution’s office and courts shortly before the National Assembly’s inspection began.
This recent incident is not only about drinking shots. It shows that lawmakers have a distorted sense of privilege. They believe they should live the good life.
It also shows that those agencies under inspection believe they can get away with anything if they entertain inspectors.