Moon prods Saenuri to get Lee testimony in ‘resources’ probe

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Moon prods Saenuri to get Lee testimony in ‘resources’ probe

The leader of the main opposition party said Monday that he will testify before the National Assembly over projects undertaken by the liberal Roh Moo-hyun government, if that was what it would take for former President Lee Myung-bak to answer for the costly overseas resource investments pushed under his administration.

“The Saenuri Party said Lee would testify if I testified,” Moon Jae-in, the chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, said at a meeting of party leaders.

“I accept the demand,” said Moon. “I will testify, so Lee must testify too.”

Moon’s remarks appeared to be an ultimatum for the former president and the conservative ruling party over the deadlock in the investigation into Lee’s signature projects, known as his “resources diplomacy” initiative.

Today marks the end of the 100-day mandate for the special investigative committee, though no hearings have taken place over the past 99 days, with both sides failing to agree on who would testify before lawmakers.

“There can be no sacred ground when it comes to laying bare the truth,” Moon said. “Former President Lee selected and encouraged overseas resources development as his primary agenda. As the highest responsible person, he must answer for it. He must stop hiding behind the Saenuri Party and come out and address the public.”

In January, the Saenuri and the NPAD agreed that the scope of the investigation would cover not only the Lee administration but the two liberal governments preceding it. On March 19, the Saenuri Party included Moon and other officials in the Roh administration on its witness list. Moon served as Roh’s presidential chief of staff.

Although Moon initially protested the move, he currently maintains that he is more than willing to testify if that’s what is required for Lee to make an appearance.

“The special committee is about to end its activities without having conducted a single session,” Moon said. “I feel publicly embarrassed over this situation, no matter the reasons. But the Saenuri Party is to blame for creating this situation by attempting to protect Lee.”

In addition to the former president, the NPAD has demanded that two current members in the Park Geun-hye cabinet - Economic Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan and Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick - testify at the hearing.

The opposition has also demanded that former lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk, the older brother to the former president, and former knowledge economy vice minister Park Young-joon testify.

Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung said on Monday that Moon’s offer to testify in return for Lee’s appearance was nothing more than political theater.

“The charges are unclear, but the NPAD wants to select the former president as a witness,” Kim said. “That is a move intended to ruin the investigation.”

Kim dismissed the NPAD chairman’s demand as merely an attempt to villainize Lee, and added that the ruling party was willing to extend the limit of the investigation.

The two parties earlier agreed that the 100-day probe could be extended once for 25 additional days.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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