A malicious linking

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A malicious linking

The prosecution is closing in on newly elected Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee Jae-myung, starting with the police referring the case of his wife involving her misuse of corporate credit card to the prosecution. In counterattack, Lee, a former Gyeonggi governor, proposed the appointment of a special prosecutor to probe the affairs of first lady Kim Keon-hee, the wife of President Yoon Suk-yeol. During a Supreme Council meeting of the party, Lee suggested that he could agree to a probe by a special prosecutor into his alleged violation of the election law if an independent investigation is launched to investigate the first lady.

The political leadership falls under higher ethical standard. Even a trivial allegation must be addressed with honesty to conclude with an apology and liability. Such process is necessary for the health of the community. The allegations around first lady Kim also should not be exempted. But a special probe of her is not appropriate as it can be used for politicization of allegations against them. Prosecutors loyal to the Moon Jae-in administration investigated the allegation of stock manipulation by the first lady, but they deferred her indictment. When some hardline party members proposed a special investigation, interim DP head Woo Sang-ho toned it down to a parliamentary probe.

The allegations around Chairman Lee are incomparably big and numerous. The prosecution summoned Lee last week as the statute of limitation on the charge of making false statements during the March 9 presidential election expires on Sept. 9. Lee claims the prosecution is making false accusations. But there has been sufficient circumstantial evidence suggesting he had not been honest on his implication with the suspicious Daejang-dong and Baekhyeon-dong redevelopment projects during the presidential election. If he is found guilty of some account to be fined for more than 1 million won ($729), the DP may have to return the 43.4-billion-won state subsidy he received for the government for his election campaign. Lee is involved in more than 10 criminal cases, including favoritism related to property developments and illegal fund-raising for Seongnam FC while he was the mayor of Seongnam. Although the investigations have kicked off under the past administration, none progressed much. Lee claimed he was not involved and did not know of any illegality.

Instead of taking a clear-cut way, he is resisting the questioning after defining it as a “political vendetta” and declaring a war with the government. Some of DP members are likening Lee with former president Kim Dae-jung who had been suppressed by the military regime. Lee and the party must not forget the strong backlash from over-protection of former justice minister Cho Kuk.
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