The Democratic Party went over the topThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) which will become the opposition once President Moon Jae-in steps down on May 9 is reattempting to strip the prosecution of investigation powers and has also motioned a special bill to probe irregularity allegations involving President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, his wife and his mother-in-law. The movement by hard-liners of the DP could stoke political conflict ahead of Yoon’s inauguration on May 10 and local elections on June 1.
During his campaign, Yoon pledged to restore the top law enforcement agency’s investigation authority and prohibit the justice minister from commanding the prosecutor general. The DP regards the plan by Yoon as a serious retreat from prosecution reforms. Rep. Min Hyung-bae, a member of a group of hard-line first-time lawmakers of the DP, urged to expedite the passage of the bill on prosecution reform after proposing to depriving the prosecution of all direct investigation rights to prevent a “coup” on the reforms.
The DP leadership which has hardened since the defeat of the latest presidential election has been lashing out. New floor leader Park Hong-keun pledged “to stake everything to stop political revenge and prosecutorial excesses” and defend President Moon Jae-in and the DP’s former presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, now standing advisor to the party. Yun Ho-jung, head of the party’s emergency committee, vowed to “finish prosecution reforms” before the launch of the new government on May 10.
The DP wants to remove the remaining investigation authority of the prosecution over six areas — corruption, economy, elections, government employees, major disasters, and defense projects — to refer them to a new investigative agency on major crimes. The DP is out to finish the prosecutorial reform which is ultimately aimed at only giving the top law enforcement agency indictment authority.
On Saturday, a group of hardliners, including Reps. Kim Yong-min, Kim Nam-kuk, and Choe Kang-wook, motioned a special bill calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into Yoon’s potential abuse of power and his family’s possible corruption. The DP with 172 seats in the 300-member National Assembly is out to press ahead with the passage of the two contentious bills for an outright face-off with the opposition People Power Party (PPP).
Rep. Cho Eung-cheon and others from the DP are cautioning a possible backfire ahead of the local elections in June. Outgoing President Moon may veto the bills before he leaves the office.
The DP leadership must calmly deliberate whether the prosecutorial reform drive is truly intended to help the lives of the people. The DP must not abuse its super majority position for opposition’s sake.