Saving the countryBoth new and incumbent top government officials recommended that President Park Geun-hye submit herself to investigation on the allegations around her questionable relationship with longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. The need and call for questioning on the president, regardless of the constitutional immunity, gathered momentum after An Chong-bum, former senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, testified to the prosecution that the fundraising activities by two controversial nonprofit organizations created by Choi had been reported to the president. The majority of lawyers said that a probe against the president was legally possible.
Kim Byong-joon, a former policy architect for liberal president Roh Moo-hyun who earlier this week was nominated as prime minister, said that he believed an investigation was possible. The law is equal for all civilians, including the president, but the procedures and method of probe need to consider the subject’s official title as the chief executive of the state, he said.
Han Gwang-ok, a former chief of staff to dissident-turned-president Kim Dae-jung, who also was recruited this week as the battered president’s chief of staff, agreed with the prime minister nominee that a thorough investigation is a must for the ongoing case. He said he could propose the president invite herself to the probe if necessary.
The prosecution had been reluctant to investigate the active president, citing the Constitution, which protects the president with immunity from criminal prosecution unless he or she commits a crime equivalent to treason or insurrection, and maintained that she could not be investigated while in office. But the prosecution also changed its position upon the brewing mood in the political and social level. Justice Minister Kim Hyun-woong said he too would recommend the president to surrender herself to the investigation. More than 70 percent of the people believe that the president must directly answer to all allegations around her and her friend.
She has lost public confidence and must truthfully answer to all the questions to compensate for the pain and shock she delivered to the nation. In the United States, both presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton underwent questioning by prosecutors while still in office.
Park must set an example so that her confidants under investigation also can speak honestly. By exposing all the truth and bringing justice to the people for the excesses and irregularities they committed through borrowed authority to the extent of rocking the national foundation is the only way to salvage public confidence in the authority and dignity of this nation.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 4, Page 30
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