The most cunning of allOn Wednesday, the emergency committee of the Democratic Party (DP) decided to maintain Clause 1 of Article 80 in its party charter, which immediately strips party members of their official titles when they are indicted for violating corruption related laws. A day earlier, the party’s national convention preparatory committee proposed to change the charter provision to suspend a party member only when he or she is found guilty at the first trial. The move was criticized for attempting to shield former presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung running for party chairmanship from ongoing investigations by the prosecution and police on Lee for several charges during his Gyeonggi governorship and Seongnam mayoral period.
But the convention preparatory committee accepted part of another controversial charter provision amendment to authorize the top executive council — not ethics committee — to cancel or suspend punitive actions by the party when prosecutorial indictment is deemed political pressure. In short, the party leadership can revoke the suspension decision if it wants to.
But the emergency committee transferred the authority over the revocation to the party affairs committee — instead of the current executive council — for “broader discussion.” But the party affairs committee is headed by the party secretary general, usually close to the party head. As a result, the party leadership can always nullify the suspension provision citing political pressure.
The DP has already defined the investigations of Lee by the prosecution and the police as “political oppression.” Although the charges on the former Seongnam mayor over the Daejangdong development scandal and the dubious Seongnam FC sponsorship were exposed by whistleblowers or media reports, the party blames political influence. It claims the opposition party is under attack in a “republic of the prosecution” led by former prosecutor general-turned-president Yoon Suk-yeol. Even if Lee is indicted by the top law enforcement authority, the DP will hardly suspend him from his chairmanship.
The DP may not be out to defend just Lee. Rep. Woo Sang-ho, chairman of the emergency committee, claimed that other lawmakers of the party could be targeted as the party was under political revenge.
Any members of a political party, if found guilty, must be liable for their wrongdoing. Many of corruption allegations against members of the Moon Jae-in administration could not be investigated by the prosecution or the police under the cover of the president. Pardoning their members under the pretext of “political revenge” is an arrogant thought. The party must correct its folly in the upcoming committee meetings.