The question of constitutionalityAmid a bipartisan delay and conflict, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) is out to field shortlisted candidates to head a new powerful investigation agency even without the consent of the main opposition by trying to change the controversial law on the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO). The DP has threatened to revise the law by Dec. 3. The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) vows to stop the revision through protests.
The DP is intent on railroading with its unilateral revision regardless of the mediation from the Assembly speaker. The opposition has no power to stop it due to a critical shortage of its seats in the legislature.
The PPP should not have gone along with the selection of candidates for the chief of the new investigation agency since it opposed its establishment as it goes against the Constitution. It nevertheless recommended committee members to select its head because of political risks from an outright boycott in the selection process. Since the ruling party has gotten the opposition onboard, the DP should have respected their views. It should have tried to convince the opposition by fielding a candidate that it could not oppose. But after just two meetings, the DP suddenly concluded that the PPP had no will to choose a candidate for the chief and vowed to go on its unilateral way by stripping the opposition’s veto power through legal revision.
Under the DP-proposed changes to the law, the opposition will no longer have a say in naming the head of the new investigation agency. When questions were raised about the new institution becoming a protector of the ruling power, the presidential office and DP vowed to give veto power to the PPP in naming the chief to ensure neutrality.
But the DP is arguing for the need to launch the new organization without the opposition’s consent. The revised bill even proposes to extend CIO prosecutors’ term to seven years from three. The move is suspected as a protection of the ruling party even if it loses governing power.
The institution can be anti-Constitution in many ways. The agency does not fall into any of the three powers — legislative, administrative or judiciary branches. It targets public officials above a certain level. The PPP and lawyers have challenged the establishment with the Constitutional Court.
But the top court has been sitting on the case for 10 months. It must come to a conclusion before the DP pushes ahead with its unilateral legal revision.