Find a credible counselThe government passed a bill proposing to authorize an independent investigation into the case of the corruption and power abuses by President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, separately from state prosecution. Under the law, opposition parties are entitled to name two candidates and the president must choose one as the chief independent counsel. The extraordinary probe could start late next month.
The special probe would cover 14 charges, including the leak of classified materials to Choi from presidential secretaries, Park’s role behind the nonprofit organizations Choi created to collect money from conglomerates and various power abuses and influence-peddling by Choi and her family members.
The team is authorized to probe beyond what the state prosecutors have charged. But it does not have enough time and human resources to take up such a mammoth task. Their legal active period is 70 days, and their tenure can be extended for another 30 days upon presidential approval. It will not be easy, even with 20 prosecutors.
The independent investigation must work against these odds to uncover the truth without leaving any doubt. It is authorized to question the president, her aides and even the prosecutors who handled the case. As a result, conflicts and controversies could occur.
The independent counsel can hardly do its job without extraordinary investigation ability, ethical discipline and commanding power. Also, the counsel must be entirely politically neutral, even if the choice is challenged by the president.
There must not be any dispute over the candidates, as it could undermine the investigation. The three opposition parties must find the best candidates from a broad pool. They must not be tempted to recommend candidates for the chief and assistant counsels that would work favorably for their political purposes.
The special investigation would inevitably influence the impeachment motion against the president. It therefore has the sacred duty to follow our citizens’ order to find the real truth. The opposition camp and president must make truth-finding its top priority in naming the independent counsel.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 23, Page 30