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Moon and Yoon altercate over prosecution reform bill

Posted April. 27, 2022 08:19,   

Updated April. 27, 2022 08:19


President Moon Jae-in said in a press conference on Monday that he finds it relieving that the ruling and opposition parties have reached an agreement with the help of National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug’s mediation, approving the mediatory proposal that immediately strips the prosecutorial office’s direct investigative powers except for in the fields of economic and corruption crimes. President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol demanded a re-negotiation to the ruling party through his chief of staff, Rep. Chang Je-won, saying, “My thoughts haven’t changed from when I left the office of Prosecutor General. I believe stripping the prosecution of its power is tantamount to corruption and a flagrant violation of the spirit of our Constitution.” On Tuesday, Chang directly pressed President Moon by saying that he thinks President Moon would veto the mediatory bill.

President Moon has been maintaining ambiguous attitude towards the legislation of the prosecution reform bill the ruling Democratic Party pressed ahead at a time when his term is nearing its end. The bill was put to halt in February 2021, when the then-Prosecutor General Yoon resigned. Then the Democratic Party suddenly began to push ahead with the bill again immediately after its loss in the presidential election. Cheong Wa Dae did not state its opinion and only said this was “the time for the National Assembly [to act].” President Moon refused to answer twice to a question on why the Democratic Party is eagerly pursuing to pass the bill. If the reform bill was an essential for the reformation of the prosecutorial office, President Moon should have clearly expressed his position. President Moon’s ambivalence may be a telling sign of the fact that he himself does not understand the reason why such a controversial bill is being pursued against opposition from many.

President-elect Yoon’s attitude is self-contradictory as well. Yoon quickly reversed its approval of the mediatory proposal signed by the People Power Party’s Floor Leader Kwon Seong-dong, the speaker of National Assembly, and the Democratic Party. Kwon is known as one of Yoon’s innermost advisers. The presidential transition committee announced on Tuesday that the president-elect was simply informed of the situation on the day of the agreement on the mediatory bill and that he did not intervene in the process or made a specific demand. Too pathetic excuse for the president-elect, who will become the chief decision-maker of the state, to make. If Yoon was ignorant of the details of the prosecution reform bill, which was the very cause of his entry into the politics, that is a serious problem. If he did know the details and yet did nothing, and only later changed his attitude, that is even a bigger problem.

The criminal law system forms the backbone of the country, and therefore, its reform must be done in caution. Legal stability would be undermined if the incumbent power supports a bill that would bring about the biggest change in 70 years, while the incoming power refuses. President Moon would be held accountable for overlooking the Democratic Party’s brash passage of legislation, and President-elect Yoon would be responsible for instigating confusion by reversing his position on the mediatory bill. Both Moon and Yoon should know better than getting into altercations outside the law-making procedures and fanning conflicts.