Time for Moon to reflectProsecutors have requested a court to issue an arrest warrant for former Justice Minister Cho Kuk on charges of abuse of power to stop the Blue House’s inspection on corruption of Yoo Jae-soo, former vice mayor of Busan. The prosecution’s separate investigation of Cho over his alleged involvement in a suspicious private equity fund and special treatment for his daughter in college admissions are also underway. That’s not all. His alleged involvement in last year’s Ulsan mayoral election is also being investigated.
Former Justice Minister Cho is an iconic figure of the liberal administration. After working as a key member of an influential liberal civic group, he was picked as President Moon Jae-in’s senior secretary for civil affairs and later served as justice minister. We are embarrassed to see his dramatic transformation into a suspect over abuse of power.
Cho’s supporters attack the prosecution for recklessly wielding a sword. The ruling Democratic Party has joined the chorus out of the judgment that such a hard-line stance would help unite the progressives and avert a lame duck phenomenon in the Moon Jae-in administration. But that’s a big mistake. History shows that the governing power always faces an insurmountable crisis if it fails to comprehend the gravity of a crisis at hand.
It all began with the Blue House. As a senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, Cho forced his aids to halt an inspection on the former vice mayor of Busan, who had served as a director of the powerful Financial Services Commission (FSC). The presidential office says the decision was under its jurisdiction. But that goes against our common sense because Cho did not ask the prosecution to dig into Yoo’s illegal acts despite mounting evidence. The suspicions over Cho will be cleared in court, but the fact that he blocked a Blue House inspection on a high official in Busan deserves criticism.
The former Park Geun-hye administration collapsed because she allowed her aides to abuse power. That’s why the citizens staged candlelight vigils. President Moon was able to take power thanks to such a zeitgeist. And yet the same patterns appeared in the self-proclaimed clean government. If those suspicions prove true, that constitutes a case of privatization of power.
The nation is sharply split over whether to arrest Cho. If the ruling power tries to overcome the crisis politically, its supporters will turn their backs on it. The Moon administration must reflect on what it did. Otherwise, the crisis will only deepen — a lesson it must have learned from the tragic demise of the former administration.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 24, Page 34