A ruling party lawmaker has publicly called for a special pardon for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. The issue of granting a pardon to Lee is likely to become a controversy in the political circle as some members of the ruling party are joining the chorus of voices in the business and religious circles calling for a pardon for the Samsung vice chairman.
Lee Won-wook (picture), ruling Democratic Party (DP) lawmaker and head of the Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee under the National Assembly, told BBC Radio on Tuesday that the need for a pardon of Vice Chairman Lee is not mild but very strong given the current supply and demand dynamics in the semiconductor industry and investments in the U.S. He went on to say that the people are also demanding a pardon for Vice Chairman Lee against the backdrop where the economy is unstable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding the government should actively consider grating a pardon to Vice Chairman Lee.
Rep. Lee is the first member of the ruling party to publicly ask the government to review Lee’s pardon. Rep. Yang Hyang-ja, a former Samsung Electronics executive and a member of the DP’s special committee on semiconductor technology, and four-term lawmaker Ahn Gyu-back earlier mentioned the need for a pardon for Vice Chairman Lee but what they meant was a conditional pardon based on the consent of the people.
However, opposing voices were immediately raised within the party. Rep. Lee Tan-hee wrote on his Facebook account that he is against pardoning Vice Chairman Lee because everyone is equal before the law and he is not sure if doing so will actually help the economy.
Regarding the pardoning of Vice Chairman Lee, Prime Minister nominee Kim Boo-kyum said in a written statement to the members of the confirmation hearing that if confirmed, he will gather various opinions from the business community, civic groups, and the political circle, and deliver them to the president. But Kim added that he does not think a pardon granted without the consensus of the people will be helpful for national integration and economic development. Lee Nak-yon, former chief of the DP, said on Tuesday that he will refrain from saying anything about the issue because it is the president’s power to grant pardons, adding the government could go over the issue someday.
When asked about the need to grant a pardon to Vice Chairman Lee raised by Rep. Lee, a Cheong Wa Dae official said its position has not been changed, meaning that it does not have plans to consider a pardon or Vice Chairman Lee.
Min-Woo Park firstname.lastname@example.org