DUP should nod to Park’s arrest

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DUP should nod to Park’s arrest

The National Assembly seems to be going back to its old habits again to shield Representative Park Jie-won, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party, from arrest. DUP Chairman Lee Hae-chan insisted that the Assembly should be convened immediately after the ongoing special session is over on Aug. 3, saying there is too much to do.

But the move must be aimed at protecting Park from the prosecution’s subpoena on charges of corruption. Park, former minister of culture, sports and tourism and chief secretary to President Kim Dae-jung, has long been on the prosecution’s list of suspects for taking hundreds of millions of won in bribes from CEOs of insolvent savings banks. He has been refusing to comply with the prosecution’s subpoena for his involvement in a massive bribe scandal involving political bigwigs strenuously pleading his innocence.

Despite the prosecution’s notched-up request for an arrest warrant, however, he cannot be summoned as it needs consent from his peers while the Assembly is in session - thanks to legislators’ privilege of immunity from arrest.

The prosecution can hardly expect to get consent for his arrest as long as the opposition opposes it - so the opposition party attempts to prolong the Assembly session to prevent his arrest. If the DUP really wants to prove its will to convene the session for business, it must agree to his arrest. Only then can the opposition camp get rid of suspicion regarding the motive behind their concerted acts. If the opposition opens the special session after accepting his arrest, it will be applauded by many voters.

Lawmakers’ immunity from arrest is a mechanism to protect their freedom and independence in carrying out their jobs as legislators, not to allow their corruption and malpractices. The DUP knows well that lawmakers have often taken advantage of the privilege to protect their embattled colleagues. The opposition party promised to give it up in an effort to reform the legislature last month. Yet it resorts to self-contradictory behavior after its floor leader faces arrest for corruption charges.

The opposition party must stop its old habit. How can it expect to receive public support when it strives to evade legitimate law enforcement? No voters would believe whatever commitments its eight candidates for president may come up with. The DUP must demonstrate its ability to govern through actions, not words.
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