Posted July. 14, 2015 07:30,
President Park Geun-hye at a meeting with senior secretaries on Monday instructed Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Woo Byung-woo to look into who may be eligible for special pardons and also the scope. "We need to grant special pardons on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the nation`s liberation from the Japanese colonial rule, to promote national development and forge national cohesion," she said. It is the first time President Park announced a forward-looking plan on special pardons since she took term as president.
The Federation of Korean Industries had requested on Thursday for the grant of special pardons on businessmen at its meeting with CEOs of the nation`s top 30 conglomerates. Business circles are hailing President Park`s latest remarks on granting special pardons. Among the businessmen who are currently behind bars include SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, SK Senior Vice Chairman Chey Jae-won and former LIG Nex1 CEO Koo Bong-sang. Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon was freed from jail but is put on probation. Cheong Wa Dae`s granting of special pardons or parole will boost investment and the economy.
The older Chey has been in jail for 30 months after he was sentenced to a four-year sentence. He has been in jail for the longest time as corporate head. As of August 15, he will be completing 65 percent of his prison term, surpassing the eligible parole standard (one-third of prison term). The Park administration granted special pardons at the lunar New Year holidays last year, but politicians and businessmen were excluded from the list. Though it isn`t right to grant special treatment to chaebols unconditionally, it also goes against the principle of "equality before the law" to exclude businessmen unconditionally in granting pardon.
Rep. Park Beom-kye of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said, "I had engaged in pardons duty under the Roh Moo-hyun administration when I was secretary for legal affairs. And after I stepped down, I was lured by many lobbying people." There is a huge "underground market" surrounding special pardons. Former presidents, without exception, granted aides, politicians and businessmen who were engaged in corruptions, at the end of their terms. People who had wealth and power received indulgence, which had caused increase of mistrust on government`s law.
When President Park was running for president in 2012, she pledged restricting the right of special pardons, and upon being elected president, she criticized special pardons granted by former President Lee Myung-bak. Some politicians are being mentioned as eligible for special pardon ahead of the general elections next year. The late Keangnam Enterprises Chairman Sung Wan-jong who had been granted special pardons two times under the Roh administration gave huge amount of money to Roh`s brother, Roh Geon-pyeong, to receive special pardon, which was to run for general election. President Park should examine August 15 special pardon on businessmen who meet standards, but at the same time, she should take caution not to grant pardons to those who hope to abuse it to run for a post at the general election.