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The ‘removal of accumulated ills’ should head toward the future

The ‘removal of accumulated ills’ should head toward the future

Posted October. 28, 2017 07:51,   

Updated October. 28, 2017 08:10


It will be exactly six months on November 10 since the Moon Jae-in administration, which was launched by citizens' aspirations, took office immediately after clinching a victory in the May 9 presidential election. The administration has put "building the country again by eradicating deep-rooted irregularities" at the top of its list of priorities. It has declared to break off from the past by making a team dedicated to cleaning up accumulated ills at all ministries, with the post for the new SME minister still vacant.

Despite the Moon administration's effort to remedy the ills of the past, some say it falls short of their expectations. On the other hand, others say they are concerned about the new government's hasty moves that could lead to unwanted results. As most of the policy tasks focus too much on the removal of the ills of the former administrations, some say they are sick and tired or stand opposed to the government's moves. The conflict is more evident in the political circle: When the Moon administration's investigation into the past ills did not stop at the previous Park Geun-hye administration but expanded to the Lee Myung-bak administration, the opposition parties denounced the administration and called it a "political revenge."

That is why the Moon administration's move to clean up the old evils should head toward the future. There were also moves by the former past administrations to correct the old ills but they were met with unpredicted side effects and lost momentum because they focused only on digging up the past. This is not an issue that can be addressed in a short time. Legal procedures to punish the evils can take so long that they may not be completed during this administration. In order not to repeat mistakes, the Moon administration should look back on itself and establish principles and standards in removing deep-rooted evils of society.

Firstly, the target of removal should not be a particular figure or power but should be old and corrupt system, in other words, institutions and practices. The Moon administration should not target particular figures or powers, thereby losing its purpose. All ministries under the current administration are revealing wrongdoings of the former administrations, which are leading to investigations by the prosecution. But we are not seeing any improvements in the system itself. What we are expecting is a comprehensive blueprint that can correct the structural problems of our society and change the culture and mindset of people as well. Only then we will see a true and bold removal of the deep-rooted ills of our society.

Secondly, all procedures should conform to the law. Chief Presidential Secretary Im Jong-seok’s sending an official document to ministries ordering an establishment of a team responsible for the eradication of long-established irregularities is an act overstepping his authority, which made the nature of the eradication work doubtful in the first place. It is unacceptable for private members of the National Intelligence Service Reform Committee to have a look at confidential document of the National Intelligence Service without permission. Ignoring legal procedures, like the above examples, can damage the legitimacy of the Moon Jae-in administration's effort to clean up the past irregularities and in time they can become the irregularities themselves that should be eradicated.

Lastly, but not leastly, we should remember that eradication is completed through the normalization of politics. Citizens' aspirations shown through candlelight protests were result of the politics not in place. It was an expression‎ of anger against the president who wielded absolute power without listening to the people and the National Assembly who failed to hold that president in check. The eradication of past irregularities is completed in the National Assembly. All reform plans, including establishment of an independent counsel devoted to probing corruption cases involving senior public servants in order to overhaul the prosecution, adjustment of investigation authority between the prosecution and the police, constitutional amendment to reform the political circle and reform of the electoral system, should have approval from the National Assembly to be successful. What we are looking for is joining hands and restoring a representative democracy, instead of the expansion of direct democracy that skips the National Assembly.