The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) on Thursday commissioned an all-out inspection of 102 members on speculative real estate investments to the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission (ACRC). It came just one day after the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) rejected the PPP’s official request for an investigation. Earlier, the BAI reportedly balked, describing that the investigation requested is not within its responsibility. Nevertheless, the PPP made a stalling request, drawing criticism from within and outside.
It is the PPP itself that invited criticism about its nasty tricks. Since public anger with the ruling forces was elevated by speculative investments by employees of the Land & Housing Corporation in the real estate market, the main opposition’s sole interest was in the April 7 by-elections with a complete inspection of the National Assembly put on the back burner. Since the ruling Democratic Party of Korea asked the ACRC to work on an inspection in early April, the PPP has not taken any action to request a BAI-led investigation for the past two months, arguing that it does not have any trust in the ACRC, the head of which belonged to the ruling party. It was not until the ruling party recommended that 12 members leave the party voluntarily that the PPP asked for help from the BAI. All such inaction may make the PPP speechless even if it is criticized for its lack of willingness to initiate a thorough inspection.
Housing issues are directly associated with the livelihoods of the public. Just as stable supply matters, it is important for social leaders to show a great example of fairness and transparency. When public suspicion is growing that government officials and lawmakers have engaged in illegal real estate transactions, the PPP leadership may come under heavy criticism if it tries to bury its head in the sand. It is fair that the PPP commissions an investigation to the ACRC just as five political parties, including the ruling party, the People Party and the Justice Party, have done.
The PPP should ask the ACRC to carry out a harsher inspection on its members than the ruling party does if it wants to prove that it was not a sneaky try to knock on the BAI’s door. The ACRC has no authority to perform a coercive investigation. When it worked to investigate the ruling party’s members, it had difficulty seeking cooperation from those who refused to submit documents. The PPP has to stop merely expressing distrust of the ACRC and provide cooperative assistance to the agency by submitting financial transaction details, etc. As of now, there is not any proper government organization other than the ACRC that can execute a comprehensive investigation into lawmakers. With it taken as an opportunity, systems and apparatuses should be renovated to investigate allegations of lawmakers’ real estate irregularities intensively and regularly.