Opposition angry over consultations

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Opposition angry over consultations

Opposition parties on Monday berated the presidential office for passing consultations with parliament before announcing a set of sweeping measures to reform powerful state investigative organizations.

They also contended that the reforms should include measures to insulate the organizations from political influence, such as preventing the presidential office from holding sway over their personnel management.

On Sunday, the Blue House unveiled the measures, including empowering the police with broader investigative authorities, stripping the spy agency of its right to probe espionage cases and establishing a separate body to investigate corruption cases involving top officials.

The measures were in line with President Moon Jae-in’s pledge to revamp the organizations, which have long been criticized for political bias, abuse of power and corruption.

“When a parliamentary panel on judicial reforms has begun sincere discussions, [the measures] show [the presidential office’s] unilateral move does not duly respect the National Assembly,” Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party [LKP], said.

LKP spokesman Choung Tae-ok noted that the problem related to the prosecution results from the presidential office’s undue influence over its operations.

“[The problem] is that the presidential office has intervened, issued directives and received reports [from the prosecution], and that the Blue House has the right to appoint top prosecution officials,” Choung said.

“The Blue House getting its hands off the prosecution and police should be the start and end of the reform,” he added.

Yoo Seong-min, the leader of the minor opposition Bareun Party, struck a similar note, stressing the need to reform the way top prosecution and police officials are appointed.

“Whether it is the prosecution, police or spy agency, the reform should target the personnel appointment rights dominated by the presidential office,” he said. “There seems to be no such reform of those rights in the Blue House’s measures.”

Yoo also opposed the proposal to scrap the spy agency’s espionage investigative authority. Conservatives, including him, argue that it would seriously erode the country’s capabilities to curb North Korean espionage.

The ruling Democratic Party, however, welcomed the measures, saying they aim to “shore up” powerful organizations that have lost public trust. “[The measures] are based on citizens’ order to rectify the misuse of powers by organizations,” Choo Mi-ae, the party leader, said.

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