In glass houses, stones in handWe have heard legislators promise a higher level of ethical standards over and over. The promises were repeated because they were never met. The same old song played during the presidential election last year. And the pledges will likely end up in the same place they always do - the bin.
The National Assembly’s special ethics committee held a meeting to review the punishment of Democratic United Party representatives Lee Jong-kul and Bae Jae-jeong, but failed to come to any decision. Seven members from the main opposition party submitted a motion to turn the proposal for punitive action on their two peers back over to the coordination committee. Without a bipartisan agreement, coordination procedures could take as long as 90 days, which means the two lawmakers would avoid any retribution until at least May 28. And any planned penalties could be discreetly cancelled during that period.
Lee caused controversy with an alleged typo in which he called then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye “the bitch” on his Twitter in August last year. Bae was referred to the ethics committee for an unauthorized search of a mobile phone of the secretary general of the Jeongsu Scholarship Fund to find evidence of connections between the fund and candidate Park. He secretly took pictures of the phone records and exposed them to the public to attack Park. He was ordered by the ethics committee to apologize for his actions.
If lawmakers do wrong, they should be penalized. But apologizing can hardly be considered punishment. The DUP, however, claimed unfairness in the planned punitive actions for their peers. They brought up Kim Tae-ho of the Saenuri Party, who received a warning from the legislature for publicly calling the alliance between presidential candidates Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo a scam. They demanded a balanced review, but at the end of the day, it’s simply a bid to buy time.
The Saenuri Party is criticizing the DUP for this obvious attempt at dodging responsibility. But it is in no position to be critical. A motion to authorize an arrest warrant for Kim Young-joo of the Saenuri Party, who has been charged with violating the election law, failed to pass due to opposition from the ruling party. The party is still resisting the opposition’s demand for a rescheduling of a vote on the motion.
How can the legislators talk about reform when they can’t even take responsibility for their own mistakes? Before throwing stones at senior public officials, lawmakers should think about the glass houses they live in.