Mr. President? Hello?On Wednesday, when the war between Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl reached a new high, President Moon Jae-in posted a message on Facebook about violence against women. He expressed a determination to sternly deal with crimes against women. But the president did not mention anything about the unprecedented decision by a justice minister to suspend a top prosecutor from active duty on highly suspicious grounds.
Even our past military governments did not make such an outrageous decision. On Tuesday, a Blue House spokesperson simply sent journalists a text message claiming that the president showed no reaction after being briefed about the minister’s decision. That was all.
It was Moon who appointed Yoon as prosecutor general. When giving a certificate of appointment to Yoon in the presidential office last year, the president called him “our prosecutor general” and urged him to “investigate the powers that be.” Appearing before a legislative questioning session last month, Yoon clearly said that the president had asked him to “do your best as top prosecutor to realize justice.” No prosecutor general would tell a lie answering questions from legislators.
If the top prosecutor is suspended from duty, the president must clearly explain why his government had to make such a decision despite the prosecutor generals’ two-year tenure guaranteed by the law. Yet Moon keeps mum.
The president’s silence is nothing new. Whenever controversy arises over sensitive issues, Moon adopts his cloak of invisibility. After the ruling Democratic Party (DP) abruptly reversed the previous government’s plan to expand the Gimhae airport instead of building a new one on Gadeok Island, Busan, Moon didn’t say anything. When the government pressed ahead with a nuclear phase-out despite strong opposition, he was nowhere to be seen. After his administration’s 23 sets of real estate measures backfired, he nonchalantly said those measures were starting to have effects.
The president showed the same reaction when the DP decided to field candidates in Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections after eating his own words not to field candidates if party members made serious mistakes. Instead, the president has been attending a slew of political events. We seriously wonder about his habit of burying his head in the sand whenever a crisis brushes him.
The way the justice minister suspended the top prosecutor is also confounding. Yoon vowed to take legal action against her decision. The president must make his position clear. Otherwise, he will be remembered as a coward in our presidential history.