Fact-finding should wait

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Fact-finding should wait

We are worried about the launch on April 28 of a special fact-finding committee on the sinking of the naval corvette Cheonan. We believe it’s too early for the National Assembly to start its own investigation at a time when the joint civilian and military investigation team is examining the tragic incident.

Despite the joint investigation team’s presentation on their findings yesterday, it has a long way to go before a final conclusion is made. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said the team will need at least one month to collect solid evidence and discover the cause of the sinking. The Board of Audit and Inspection is also prepared to look into the military’s systems of command, reporting and crisis management. So it would be better for the National Assembly to launch its own investigation after the results of the investigation come in. To summon military officers who should devote themselves to national security is often not desirable.

Of course, the National Assembly’s own investigation could provide an opportunity to dispel many suspicions over the cause of the sinking. But considering the customary attacks that take place in the Assembly, such an investigation would likely invite more political fights between the ruling and opposition parties, rather than erasing suspicions. The National Assembly’s rush to set up the committee seems to have something to do with the local elections on June 2.

Though President Lee Myung-bak and opposition party leaders promised not to exploit the tragedy for political gain, the National Assembly had better postpone their own investigation until after the joint team finishes its activities and the regional elections are over. When they start their own investigation, they should make more efforts to prepare firm and resolute responses to the attack, not simply to find the cause of the incident. If the real cause is confirmed, they should come up with specific ways to deal with the tragedy, internally and externally. In particular, they need to form a bipartisan front to seek international cooperation and find solutions to strengthen our military preparedness if any problems are identified.

The lawmakers should also bear in mind that indiscriminate exposure of our military secrets could pose a serious threat to our defenses. They should also refrain from resorting to inappropriate words and actions that may dampen the morale of the military. These are problems that can be solved as long as the lawmakers display patriotism and not capitalize on security problems for political gains. We hope their efforts will lead to a genuine fact-finding mission that guarantees calm, thorough and bipartisan cooperation for national security.

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