Arrogance on display
The National Assembly’s regular audit of the Blue House was botched after the Blue House refused to send seven presidential aides to the session Thursday. The presidential office cited several reasons, including the need to quarantine an official after a trip overseas. However, its abrupt refusal constitutes a brazen disrespect for the legislature. The almighty Blue House of President Moon Jae-in’s administration has left another bad precedent in the National Assembly’s history. We wonder if the Blue House really regards the legislature as being an equal to the presidency.
The seven presidential aides who refused to appear at the audit session included Suh Hoon, director of the National Security Office; Kim Jong-ho, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs; and Ryoo Yeon-sang, presidential security service chief. First of all, Suh should have explained the government’s timid reaction to the brutal murder last month of a South Korean fisheries official by the North Korean military. Kim should have answered questions about Blue House officials’ alleged involvement in the Optimus fund scandal. Given the gravity of such cases, they should have appeared at the audit and answered questions from lawmakers.
Their excuses were hard to understand, such as “instruction from health authorities to avoid contact with other people,” said Suh, while Kim shared that there’s a “need to promptly respond to urgent issues.” Ryoo voiced that there’s a “duty to protect the president.” Such excuses deserve criticism and are obvious attempts to avoid attacks from the opposition.
On Wednesday, Presidential Security Service chief Ryoo stirred controversy by ordering his subordinates to search Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), before a brief meeting with President Moon and ruling Democratic Party (DP) leaders ahead of his address to the National Assembly. After Joo complained about the frisking, the security service apologized but soon attributed it to security guidelines set by the previous administration. If so, how could the secret service explain its decision to not search DP floor leader Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon?
In an address to the National Assembly Wednesday, President Moon called for the opposition to cooperate with the ruling party because of the growing need to work alongside each other in times of an unprecedented crisis from Covid-19. However, given what the Blue House did in the last couple of days, his words ring hollow. If the Blue House does not regard the legislature as an inferior branch of the government, a rubber stamp for its desires, the presidential aides must appear at a legislative audit that has been postponed to Nov. 4.