[Editorial] ‘Divided, we lose’

Home > Opinion > Editorials

print dictionary print

[Editorial] ‘Divided, we lose’

The National Assembly voted down a request from the prosecution to arrest Rep. Noh Woong-rae — a Democratic Party (DP) lawmaker under suspicion of taking a 60 million won ($47,244) bribe from a businessman in return for favors — on Wednesday. Of all the votes cast, 161 lawmakers opposed his arrest while 101 voted for and 9 abstained. The results of the vote owed much to the majority party holding 169 seats in the 300-member Assembly. The rejection is the first of its kind after three earlier requests from prosecutors to arrest legislators were approved by the legislature.

The DP said that the party leadership left the decision to individual lawmakers without fixing its formal position before the voting. But the signs were already evident. DP floor leader Park Hong-keun first hoisted the flag by attacking the government in a meeting before the voting for “mobilizing all law enforcement agencies to investigate and indict our chief Lee Jae-myung and other members.” Standing on the podium, Rep. Noh pleaded for help after strongly criticizing the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration for “trying to find any dirt on opposition lawmakers” in order to share a sense of frustration with his colleagues.

Another factor for the legislative refusal of the request for arrest was a gloomy future of the DP head facing a plethora of allegations against him. DP lawmakers regarded the vote on Wednesday as a rehearsal of an upcoming vote on the fate of their boss. If they endorse the prosecution’s request for arresting Noh, they can hardly disapprove of a following request to arrest Lee. DP members were all united to keep the line.

When Noh’s suspicion was disclosed, the DP was not so supportive of the fourth-term lawmaker. Party members nearly showed a cold reaction to him even while vehemently resisting the prosecution’s investigations of Lee’s close aides, such as Kim Yong, vice head of a DP think tank, and Jeong Jin-sang, a mid-level official in his office. After the prosecution sped up its probe of Lee, however, the party took a hardline stance to defend any potential suspects in the party from the sword of the prosecution. A few DP members expressed concerns about the possibility of damaging the party by trying to protect lawmakers under suspicion, but it could not turn the tide.

Wednesday was the day when the prosecution summoned DP Chairman Lee for questioning on various allegations against him. But Lee did not comply. Instead, he visited Gwangju city, DP’s home turf, to rally support from DP loyalists for his crusade to “safeguard the democracy of the country.” In a full meeting of DP lawmakers, they shouted, “Let’s get united to stop the government from oppressing an opposition party.”
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)