Impeachment process is started

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Impeachment process is started

The main opposition party Monday took a step to impeach the Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs of the Park Geun-hye administration for a controversial remark that he wished the ruling party victory in the next general election.

The New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) submitted a resolution to the National Assembly to impeach Home Affairs Minister Chong Jong-sup. Chong has faced criticism for his comment made during a dinner meeting with Saenuri lawmakers on Aug. 25.

According to people at the dinner, Chong proposed a toast, prompting representatives to repeat the phrase, “Wish for victory,” after he said, “General election.” The main opposition called Chong’s action outrageous, as the minister of government administration and home affairs is responsible for overseeing a free and fair election and preventing public servants from intervening in the polls.

The impeachment process for a minister is stipulated in the Constitution’s Article 65. According to the article, the National Assembly has the right to pass a motion for a minister’s impeachment if he or she violated the constitution or any other laws in the performance of official duties.

A motion for impeachment can be proposed by one-third or more of the total members of the National Assembly. For its passage, a concurrent vote of a majority of the total members of the legislature is needed.

Following the passage, the Constitutional Court will rule on the impeachment to decide a minister’s fate. During the adjudication process, the minister will be suspended from his job.

After news media reported his comment and the NPAD condemned him, Chong offered an apology that did little to stop the rage of the NPAD.

It demanded President Park fire him, adding that the government’s dedication to a fair election would be questioned if Chong remained in his post. It also asked the National Election Commission (NEC) to investigate him on charges that he violated his duty in maintaining political neutrality as a public servant. The NPAD filed another petition against Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan, who also serves as the minister of strategy and finance. During the same dinner with Saenuri lawmakers, Choi stated that he would improve the economic growth rate to 3 percent next year so that it would help the ruling party in the general election next April. While the NPAD asked the election watchdog to investigate Choi, it has not taken an action to impeach him, a seating lawmaker, from his cabinet post. The NEC concluded on Monday evening that both Chong and Choi did not violate the election law. But the NEC issued a warning for Chong to be cautious in his remarks.

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

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