No more political vendetta

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No more political vendetta

 It was inappropriate for Yoon Suk-yeol, presidential candidate of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), to stress the need for an investigation of the so-called wrongdoings committed under the Moon Jae-in government. When asked if he would embark on an investigation on the Moon administration’s misdeeds if he is elected to presidency during an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo last week, Yoon said yes. He accused the ruling Democratic Party (DP) of having abused “the prosecution to commit many crimes.” The charge was made without specifying what “the crimes” were.

Yoon, former prosecutor general, also said he would not interfere with the investigation as president. Then, is he suggesting he could discreetly wield influence? Yoon called Han Dong-hoon — who had been loyal to him when he was the chief prosecutor — a “person who had investigated the [sitting government] as if carrying out an independency movement.” Yoon also said that Han may serve in an important position in the prosecution if he is elected president, as he is a “competent prosecutor.” Yoon specifically suggested that Han could head the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. That comment is also inappropriate as he was suggesting prosecutorial appointments if he takes power.

The Moon administration has been suspected of various power abuses. The trials are ongoing on the allegation of the Blue House’s involvement in the Ulsan mayoral election and fabrication of an economic feasibility study on aged nuclear reactors, and a bribery case related to Eastar Airlines involving the son-in-law of the president. Those cases have been proceeded through the legitimate criminal process.

But after Yoon accused the DP of committing many “crimes” that require probes, such normal investigations and trials could be seen as a “political vendetta.” The presidential office and DP lambasted Yoon for declaring political retaliation and demanded an apology. Although Yoon had erred with the inappropriate comment, the president should not have publicly scorned the opposition’s presidential candidate, as the action would violate the election law.

Korean politics have seen a repeat of retaliatory investigations on past administrations every time a new president comes into office. As a result, President Roh Moo-hyun ended his own life and presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye were imprisoned. Yoon has deepened the divisive and contentious politics by forewarning an investigation on the past government during the presidential race.

Whoever wins the March 9 election, the leadership would need cooperation from the opposition. Candidates must declare an end to the vicious cycle of political retribution to usher in a new era of unity and harmony.
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