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[Editorial] Shaken Military Discipline, the Public Insecure

[Editorial] Shaken Military Discipline, the Public Insecure

Posted December. 19, 2004 22:56,   


President Roh Moo-hyun made remarks on the recent Army promotion scandal last week. He said, “Legitimate investigation must be guaranteed, and the investigation practice to piggyback on the public sentiment is not only appropriate but also illegal.” His remark was targeted at both the Army and the military prosecutors. It is only natural that the military make amends according to the President’s warning. After all, the President is the commander in chief.

Although the Army and the military prosecutors have been at odds with each other, they should be well-advised to remain silent if they respect the President’s advice. The majority of the public had trusted that the Army and the military prosecutors would remain prudent until the investigation results would be disclosed. However, in the meantime, a new incident occurred in which three military prosecutors offered resignations, claiming that superiors attempted to block their investigation into an Army promotion scandal. Because the top-down hierarchy is the top priority in the military, this is a serious cause for concern over the collapse of the military discipline to the extent of going against the President’s warning.

Even though the military prosecutors took issue with the fact that the Defense Minister did not approve the requested arrest warrant, it is questionable if this was so serious of an obstruction of the probe as to offer resignation. Even in society, arrest warrant requests by prosecutors are rejected time and again. Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung’s instruction to further investigate for convincing evidence for the sake of human rights protection is obviously in Minister’s right, who is in charge of approving the general-grade arrest warrants. The collective protest, not further probe into the scandal, of the military prosecutors does not seem to be a cautious move at all.

Aside from this incident, the investigation into the Army promotion scandal has already tainted the prestige of the military. The probe provoked the military because of suspicions that the investigation was launched based on political motives and that Cheong Wa Dae took the initiative in enforcing it. Given this circumstance, continued conflict within the military would only aggravate the situation.

The Defense Ministry regarded the collective action of military prosecutors as “disobedience” and decided to strictly punish them, which means an inevitable replacement of the current investigation team. This incident should serve as an opportunity for the Army and the military prosecution to pull themselves together for a resolve, to be judged by the investigation results.