Double standardsIn a question session at the National Assembly on Thursday, controversial Justice Minister Cho Kuk admitted that he had a conversation with the head of an investigation team in the prosecution probing a plethora of allegations against him and his family. When asked by an opposition lawmaker, a former prosecutor, if he really had such a conversation, Cho admitted that he did after his wife called him on the phone after she was embarrassed to see investigators raid their residence to gather evidence of their potential involvements in the scandal. But Cho said he did not obstruct the prosecution’s investigation of his family.
Cho’s remarks are a sheer excuse. The fact that a justice minister — who has jurisdiction over personnel affairs of the ministry — talked with the head of an investigation team could easily be seen as a pressure on prosecutors. That constitutes a clear abuse of power.
Cho also violated the Prosecutors’ Office Law, which specifies that a justice minister can command and oversee only a prosecutor general when it comes to an individual case. And yet he insisted he did nothing wrong as he simply had a “plain phone talk” with the head of the investigation team. We are dumbfounded at his logic — or his sophistry. Many citizens are perplexed to hear such nonsensical comments.
As a law professor at Seoul National University in May 2013, Cho wrote a message on Twitter urging the prosecution to arrest and investigate a Seoul Police chief for making a phone call to a senior prosecutor investigating an online opinion rigging case. That kind of double standard is the essence of the issue.
No wonder the man on the street is fuming.
The legislative questioning also revealed that Cho petitioned for the release on bail of Lee Ho-jin, a former chairman of Taekwang Group, who was indicted for embezzlement. Cho received $150,000 in scholarships for three years from the business group while he was studying at UC Berkeley in the 1990s. Cho said he took the action as appreciation for the chairman’s financial support. The general public is embarrassed to see such shameless behavior.
When an opposition lawmaker asked how he could lead prosecution reforms, Cho admitted that public trust in him plunged. Once public trust is broken, a top government official must step down. We are shocked to see Cho nonchalantly acting as if he were a victim. He must resign immediately if he really wants to restore justice in this country.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 27, Page 30