Scandal probe prioritiesThe prosecution’s investigation into an alleged bribery scandal revealed by Sung Wan-jong, the former chairman of Keangnam Enterprises who committed suicide last week, is imminent. Mun Mu-il, chief of the special investigation team, and other prosecutors discussed their next steps at the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office. At a press conference, Mun reiterated that his team will get to the bottom of the case, in accordance with the law.
We cannot rule out the possibility that the case involving core members of the Park Geun-hye administration could turn into the worst corruption scandal since she took office in February 2013, as it could involve illegal funds for the president’s 2012 election campaign. Ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung stressed the need to investigate both the ruling and opposition parties.
What would be the best way to get at the truth behind the scandal without any influence from the outside?
First, the Blue House and Ministry of Justice must resist any temptation to interfere in the special team’s investigation. That would be a sharp departure from the first year of the administration, when the Blue House and ministry were associated with fixing the direction and scope of the prosecution’s investigations into the National Intelligence Service meddling during the 2012 presidential election.
Secondly, since the special investigation team vowed to launch a thorough probe, lawmakers must refrain from exerting political influence. It would not be too late for them to talk about the introduction of a special counsel after carefully monitoring the prosecution’s investigation. Regardless of suspicions over the prosecution’s ability to really get to the bottom of a case involving the incumbent administration, we cannot waste the estimated three months it would take to appoint a special prosecutor.
Equally important is how to safeguard the authority of the investigation team. The government must protect its independence and neutrality. Prosecutor General Kim also must do his best, so the investigation team can subsequently do its best. He could choose to get reports about the investigation results from the corruption department of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office - instead of the special investigation team - in order to avoid any misunderstandings or suspicions regarding the case.
Last but not least, we urge the team to do its best to clear the case just like Prosecutor Mun said. We hope he keeps his promise.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 14, Page 30