Stealing the showThe National Assembly’s regular audit of the government has ended. The highlight of the audit was the Legislation and Judiciary Committee’s inquiry on the ponzi schemes by Lime and Optimus Asset Management. The two had caused billions of dollars in losses for thousands of investors. Moreover, names of politicians, senior government officials and prosecutors came up that were also implicated.
Although based on the prosecutorial probes on the two scams, they got little mention from lawmakers because rivaling parties were entirely engrossed in separately cheerleading the warring Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. Appearing at the judiciary committee’s questions on Oct. 22, Yoon unveiled all the complaints toward the justice minister and government. Yoon argued that a chief prosecutor was not a subordinate of the justice minister and criticized the minister’s appointments and orders in prosecutorial probes. The venting is understandable to some extent as he had kept silent on a string of actions from the justice minister. Still, wrangling with the justice minister hardly had any relation to the ponzi schemes, not to mention his highly political comment about contemplating his “post-retirement” service.
When her chance on the podium came, Choo fumed that the justice minister was a higher authority over the chief prosecutor and criticized Yoon for “overstepping.” The parliamentary questioning reaped nothing except for political disputes. The biggest fault lies with the ruling party who abused its overwhelming majority to restrict witnesses to the judiciary committee’s audit of the government. A former Blue House aide who was summoned did not appear without clear reason.
The opposition lawmakers, although short in numbers, should have been better prepared. But the members from the People Power Party lacked team strategy or individual work. They only cheered on and let Yoon speak as if they rely on him to deal a blow to the ruling front on their behalf. Half of the fault for the dull parliamentary questioning lies with the opposition.
The consequences after the parliamentary questioning could be more harmful. Choo replaced the scam investigation teams based on a testimony from a criminal suspect and one of the ringleaders. The focus on the financial fraud shifted to opposition lawmakers and prosecutors who allegedly received bribes and grafts from the schemers. Choo has ordered the chief prosecutor to stay away from the probes. Launching a direct inspection on Yoon is more or less a campaign to push him out. The truth could be hidden due to the shift in focus.