Yoon must speak up

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Yoon must speak up

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol said that the first duty of the president is to ensure the Constitution and its values are upheld. He is said to be negative toward the revised bills aimed at stripping the prosecution of its investigative authority, which the ruling Democratic Party (DP) has been pursuing. Yoon’s spokesperson Bae Hyun-jin conveyed his plea for a “deep deliberation and wisdom from political circles to uphold constitutional values and protect the lives of the people.”

The bill the DP seeks to pass through a full session of the National Assembly would hide the crimes of the people with power and influence and weaken relief for the broader powerless people. The outline for a compromise mediated by house speaker Park Byeong-seug was a little different. The Office of Court Administration (OCA) formally warned that court rulings could become invalid if the revised bills are passed in the legislature.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions also raised concerns. Dragos Kos, chair of the anti-bribery working group under the OECD, sent a letter to Korea’s Ministry of Justice, urging the related bills should not end up diminishing Korea’s investigative and prosecutorial capacity to deal with bribery and corruption cases.

What is really baffling is why the opposition People Power Party (PPP) suddenly agreed to the compromise brokered by the National Assembly speaker after the party vehemently opposed the revisions by defining them as an “unconstitutional bills designed to block the prosecution’s investigations into the wrongdoings of Moon Jae-in administration.” What role Yoon had played in the lead-up to the passage of the controversial bills through the Legislation and Judiciary Committee is another question. Yoon previously said that the removal of investigative powers from the prosecution would make corruption thrive. He was elected as president after abandoning his seat as prosecutor general in protest of the move by the DP.

But after being briefed on the developments during his Busan tour, the president-elect reportedly left the affair to the PPP and legislature. He is said to have learned of the gravity upon returning to Seoul. In governance, every step must be watched. Yoon should learn that leaving things to others can be risky sometimes.

The DP attacked the PPP and the president-elect for breaking a compromise and used it as an excuse to press ahead with enacting the bills. Since the PPP is no match versus the DP in the number of seats in the legislature, it must turn to public sentiment to stop the bill. Yoon must directly appeal to the public with honesty and convincing logic. He had promised not to hide behind his aides for his own mistakes. He must act out his words immediately.
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