Quick, decisive and fairPoliticians from both the ruling and opposition parties are outraged over the unexpected raids of the offices of 11 lawmakers who allegedly accepted bribes and illegal political funds. The ruling Grand National Party is calling the raids an overreaction to the alleged crimes, while the opposition parties are threatening to overhaul the prosecutors’ office.
The prosecution has touched a nerve by exposing a surreptitious sponsorship and political fund-raising network. But the lawmakers are the ones who wrote and eventually approved legislation covering political funds in a bid to prevent under-the-table money transactions. Instead of attacking the investigation as a witch hunt, politicians should reflect on the law and their fund-raising activities.
Having said that, the prosecution’s recent aggressive attack on the business sector and in the political sphere are raising eyebrows because its actions lack consistency and fairness. The prosecution has been conspicuously lenient when it comes to investigating the presidential office. It even closed one case when new evidence suggested the involvement of a presidential secretary in questionable activities.
The prosecution also just recently embarked on an investigation into Chun Shin-il, chairman of Sejoong Namo Tour, a longtime supporter of President Lee Myung-bak, even though it gathered testimony on his bribery activities. Additionally, the prosecution does not even have a plan to summon Chun for questioning.
The prosecution has made little progress on other cases involving high-profile corporate names as well. The slush fund investigation involving the Hanwha Group has been dragging on for nearly two months without any tangible progress while the conglomerate’s credibility and value swirl down the drain.
A similar case involves Taekwang Group, which was the subject of an extensive raid that has yet to result in an arrest. Investigations into bribery and other allegations against Shinhan Financial Group execs are also stagnating. Despite Prosecutor General Kim Joon-kyu’s pledge against reckless and irresponsible investigations, the prosecution has not changed at all.
The prosecution must be fully knowledgeable of the situation before launching raids and intense investigations to ensure it is as quick, decisive, fair and accurate as possible. It must work to protect the common people, identify threats to society and eliminate them before they do any harm. Prosecutors must now ask themselves if they are living up to this lofty role.