Mudslinging obscuring electionThe legislative elections are less than a week away, yet politicians are engrossed with the government’s illegal surveillance of civilians rather than their own campaigns. The ruling and opposition parties are both capitalizing on the issue to attack one another, and voters may be swayed by all the mudslinging while losing sight of the platforms and potential of the candidates.
The government’s illegal wiretapping of civilians, politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and journalists is unforgivable. More than 2,000 documents serve as hard evidence that the public ethics office of the Prime Minister’s Office has been keeping tabs on a wide range of people. The 2,619 documents disclosed by unionized workers at public broadcaster KBS and the opposition Democratic United Party were presented to the public as the work of the incumbent government. But the Blue House claims that 80 percent were drawn up under the former Roh Moo-hyun government. Opposition and ruling politicians have also wrangled over the content, and whether such surveillance could be justified or was just illegal. But as both sides merely outlined the basic content of the material, rather than disclosing details, it is all but impossible to determine who is in the right. This would require an in-depth investigation. However, politicians are wasting even more time by wrangling over what form any probe should take.
The ruling Saenuri Party is demanding that a special prosecution team be organized, but the DUP has refused to consent to this, after it earlier claimed it cannot trust the impartiality of the prosecution. Now the main opposition camp is calling for a parliamentary hearing and insisting that Park Geun-hye, head of the Saenuri’s emergency leadership council, be called to the witness stand. Park is also said to have been a victim of wiretapping.
For the good of the country, politicians need to quickly agree on the probe and refocus on their election campaigns. The prosecution should complete the ongoing probe, and in the name of enhanced objectivity, special prosecutors should be selected to conduct a supplementary investigation. Based on the findings, the new legislature should then decide whether to hold a separate parliamentary investigation or hearing.
But for now, the election should be the primary focus, and sensitive topics pertaining to welfare and business conglomerates given top priority. The Saenuri Party must present its ideas of reform, while the DUP must clarify how it differs from its rivals and voters need to weed out unqualified candidates.