People are watchingThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) has refused the opposition People Power Party (PPP)’s request for a parliamentary probe into special apartment allocation for government employees. All three opposition parties have demanded a special probe, but the DP turned up its nose at them. “The opposition has no right to demand a parliamentary probe,” said floor leader Yoon Ho-joong. He instead demanded the PPP comply with investigations into its lawmakers for real estate speculation.
The special housing program controversy has enraged the people as it entirely defies the principles of justice and fairness. The public was appalled to learn that state entities like the Customs Valuation and Classification Institute under the Korea Customs Service, the Korea Coast Guard and the Saemangeum Development and Investment Agencies had allowed their employees to partake in a special housing offering in Sejong City even when they did not work or live in the new administrative city.
A special housing program for government employees cannot meet the fairness slogan the Moon Jae-in administration has been chanting. People thought housing would be provided for government employees when their workplaces were relocated to the new administrative city. But the program mostly served to fatten wealth for civil servants.
The controversy with the customs institute is only the tip of the iceberg. Ministers and vice ministers also were provided with apartments at 300 million won ($268,216) to 400 million won that were later sold off at 1.3 billion won to 1.4 billion won, without ever residing in them.
The demand from 111 members representing the opposition camp for a legislative probe reflects the rage felt by the people.
The DP argues the government is doing its best with the police creating an investigation taskforce and the Prime Minister’s Office separately investigating the matter. But the people want a quicker probe. They cannot rely on an unreliable internal investigation by the government. If the legislature cannot dig up the matter, the Board of Audit and Investigation (BAI) must take it up. The BAI said it could look into the matter. If there had been lobbying activities, not only punishment but also seizure of their unjust profit and system fix must be followed. The people will be closely watching the development.