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(EDITORIAL from Korea Joongang Daily on May 4)

National 06:53 May 04, 2022

A factional boss to the last minute

President Moon Jae-in refused to veto the two prosecution bills. In his last weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, he put a stamp on two revisions to the Prosecution Act and the Criminal Procedure Act aimed at depriving the prosecution of its investigative authority once and for all. Earlier, the president urged lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to "debate from the perspectives of people and common sense." If he really was sincere, he should not have endorsed the bills, as they will only help the people in power to avoid penalties and those without power to suffer more. In a nutshell, the revisions are legislated to protect Moon and Lee Jae-myung — the former Gyeonggi governor and presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) — in their crusade to put politicians above the law.

The lead-up to the signing of the bills was also flawed. The DP finished a meeting of a subcommittee under the Legislation and Judiciary Committee in just 17 minutes, although it can run up to 90 days, and forced one of its committee members to leave the party to become an independent to break the delicate power balance in the subcommittee.

If Moon had had the courage to escape from the cave of self-interest, he certainly would have heard unstoppable public outrage. Not only the prosecution but also the Supreme Court, legal experts and ordinary citizens oppose the revisions which may shake the foundation of our criminal justice system. But Moon nonchalantly took sides with the DP. He even delayed his weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday over and over to promulgate the revisions after their passage in the legislature. And yet, Moon praised the revisions for "taking a step further from the principle of the separation of investigative authority and indictment authority."

Moon turned away from the growing public demand for a special pardon for former president Lee Myung-bak who has been in jail for nearly four years since 2018. That's in sharp contrast with former president Kim Young-sam, who pardoned his predecessors Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo before his term ended. Moon also refused to pardon corporate leaders when the country desperately need them in times of economic crises.

All the episodes reaffirm an outgoing president stuck in his own camp over the past five years. Moon has been engrossed in politics for supporters, the results of which is his surprisingly high approval rating in the 40 percent range. What concerns us the most is the possibility of a former president representing the liberal camp even after retirement. In the last Cabinet meeting, Moon took pride in "opening a new era." We are dumbfounded at his never-ending self-praise.
(END)

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