Get to the bottom of it

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Get to the bottom of it

President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl to prepare plans to reform the prosecution, including ways to fix the top law enforcement agency’s high-handed investigation of criminal cases. Three days earlier, Moon demanded a restrained execution of the prosecutors’ right to indict. The president’s remarks reflect his deep-rooted discontent over the prosecutors. Political analysts link his statements to possibly a “desperate need” to obstruct the prosecution’s investigation of controversial Justice Minister Cho Kuk over a plethora of allegations against him and his family.

President Moon stressed that the public are increasingly demanding reform. He made the remarks after watching a massive rally on the weekend to call for prosecutorial reforms. Moon may have been buoyed by tens of thousands of supporters gathered before the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on Saturday, but the results of recent surveys show that more people want a thorough investigation of the Cho family than not. In a KBS poll on Friday and Saturday, 49 percent of respondents supported an investigation, while 41 percent opposed it.

Politics based on the mob is dangerous. On Thursday this week, another rally will be held in central Seoul to demand a strict probe into Cho’s family. If the number of protesters that day exceeds that of Saturday, will Moon change his course? If both sides compete through rallies, what will he do? The so-called street politics can backfire given the public insanity involved. A government which desires to run the country primarily based on populism is not a normal or democratic power.

The prosecution’s rigid investigation practices and its hierarchical culture must change, as often pointed out by the media when prosecutors began investigations into a number of cases involving abuse of power and corruption in the past conservative administrations. At the time, former Prosecutor General Moon Moo-il proposed to abolish — or at least scale down — the powerful special investigation department inside the prosecution. But President Moon and Justice Minister Cho — then a senior Blue House secretary for civil affairs — did not say anything.

The Blue House and the ruling party are suddenly calling for downsizing the special investigation team. Who would then believe the authenticity of their reform drive? No one opposes reforms, but they should be done after the special investigations team wraps up its probes into Cho and his family.

A government official said Moon was angry about the prosecution’s thorough investigations of the Cho family. We are dumbfounded. Are we still living in the age of autocracy? It was President Moon who trusted and appointed Yoon as prosecutor general. He must get to the bottom of the scandal, regardless of any pressure from the Blue House.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 1, Page 30
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