Pushing its wayAs soon as the ruling Democratic Party (DP) took command over the chair seats at six standing committees of the National Assembly, including the controversial Legislation and Judiciary Committee, it fired at Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl. DP Rep. Kim Jong-min of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee said the judiciary committee would summon Yoon to grill him over his “questionable” actions over the bribery case involving former prime minister Han Myeong-sook.
It is unfortunate that the DP has again aimed at Yoon as soon as it took over the chair of the committee overseeing lawmaking process and judiciary affairs. Despite its earlier promise to make the new National Assembly a “working” one, it railroaded to form the floor even without the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) after colliding with it over the chairmanship of the legislation committee — the last gatekeeper to lawmaking before a full assembly vote. The DP’s obsessive pursuit of the judiciary committee chair raises suspicions about its attempt to wield power over judiciary arms.
The DP has placed Reps. Kim Jong-min, Park Ju-min and Song Ki-hun — who stood at the forefront to protect former justice minister Cho Kuk — as well as new faces Kim Nam-kuk and Kim Yong-min, both lawyers, on the Legislation and Judiciary Committee. Yun Ho-jung, a confidant of President Moon Jae-in and DP Chairman Lee Hae-chan, also was chosen as committee members. (He does not come from a judiciary background.) Yun is a hard-liner who argued the DP should dominate all 18 standing committees in the Assembly. The DP’s plans with the Legislation and Judiciary Committee were more or less self-explanatory through the players it had chosen for the committee. The UFP suspects the committee will work to stop the prosecutorial probes of the cases on the Blue House’s alleged meddling in the Ulsan mayoral election and its inspection on a corrupt member Yoo Jae-soo.
To prove it won’t be using the committee for its own political purpose, the DP must remove the committee’s authority to examine and make adjustments to the wordings of bills sent by other standing committees. Examining the wording of bills lopsidedly could undermine the original design of the bill or delay the legislation process.
The committee opened its first meeting without the members from the UFP. The DP has been unilateral from the selection of chairs to holding meetings in the National Assembly. The DP must remember that unilateralism and any attempt to influence the judiciary through the standing committee can be costly.