A methodical pushThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) is using all available means to enact two controversial revisions aimed at striping the prosecution of its investigative powers entirely. On Wednesday, the DP railroaded the two revisions to the Prosecution Act and the Criminal Procedure Act at the Legislation Judiciary Committee after splitting an ongoing ad hoc session. The move was aimed to neutralize the filibusters from the opposition People Power Party (PPP). According to the National Assembly Act, filibusters must stop when a legislative session is split into two or more.
The revised Prosecution Act which was cleared of the filibuster procedure can be put to a full vote at the next ad hoc session in early May. Buoyed by its supermajority status, the DP is pushing the bill and also the passing of the revision to the Criminal Procedure Act through the same procedure. The DP plans to have the two revised acts approved by the Cabinet before President Moon Jae-in’s term ends on May 9. The DP abused the National Assembly procedure to the full extent based on its supermajority.
The revision to the Prosecution Act submitted by the DP is criticized for being worse than the outline of a compromise deal arranged by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug. The opposition wanted to specify the scope of prosecutors’ direct investigation as “corruption, economic crimes, and etc.” to help avoid public criticism on the compromise deal for being a political collusion. But the DP limited the areas of prosecutors’ investigation to two — corruption and economic crimes — when it passed the revision unilaterally. The PPP also demanded a fix to the ban on prosecutors looking into unrelated areas of suspicion when they find a need for further investigation after cases were referred to them for indictment. But the DP also ignored the request.
President Yoon Suk-yeol has proposed a referendum to ask the people of their opinion on the legislation during the June 1 local elections. The PPP also filed for an injunction with the Constitutional Court after finding fault with a procedural problem in the legislation. The prosecution, too, plans to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
If the DP uses force to pass the controversial revisions and President-elect Yoon challenges the move with a referendum, national chasm will only deepen. The country is already split from the never-ending contest between the outgoing and incoming powers. The DP must stop a legislative move highly suspected of trying to save current ruling forces from prosecutorial probes. Yoon and the PPP also must repent for its hasty agreement to the compromise deal arranged by the house speaker and find a political breakthrough to resolve the impasse.