Moon urges investigation agencies to speed up reform

22-Sep-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

President Moon Jae-in has urged swift reform of the nation’s investigatory institutions ? the prosecution, police and the National Intelligence Service (NIS) ? for a balance in their investigation capacities and responsibilities, and to prevent any abuse of power.

The President presided over a meeting, Monday, with officials from the relevant organisations, including Justice minister Choo Mi-ae, National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Park Jie-won and minister of Interior and Safety Chin Young, and urged them to speedily carry out reform initiatives, while calling for cooperation from the National Assembly.

“With the determination to enact transformation for the sake of the people, the government has been pushing for the reform of power institutions. Now we will have to work harder to complete the remaining tasks,” Moon said during the meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

“Our government’s reform of power institutions is making irreversible progress. Now, we must cooperate closely with the National Assembly on the legislative issues and try to ensure that legislation is implemented as soon as possible.”

Moon mentioned the Assembly’s cooperation for the swift establishment of a new investigative body, separate from the police and prosecution, to investigate the crimes of high-ranking officials. The new investigative agency has been a core piece of the President’s push for reform of the prosecution.

He also mentioned the transformation of the NIS, which has been criticised in the past for meddling in domestic politics. “As an intelligence agency specialising in North Korea, the NIS should transform its organisation and personnel so that it can focus its capacity on ensuring national security.”

After the meeting, Choo also pledged drastic changes in the prosecution. “We’ll reform the prosecution’s structure and system, so prosecutors will fulfill their original role of supervising investigations and indicting suspects, rather than conducting their own investigations,” she said in a press briefing at the government Complex in Seoul later.

The meeting drew attention because of the participation of the justice minister, whose influence-peddling scandal has emerged as one of the biggest factors in the loss of public trust in the Moon administration’s drive to establish “fairness and equality” in all areas of Korean society.

President Moon has sought to reform the aforementioned organisations, but his key slogan for fairness particularly in the judiciary sector has been tainted due to the personal scandal involving his pick for justice minister.

The timing of the meeting has raised questions about Cheong Wa Dae’s motives. Choo’s appearance and Moon’s call on her and other officials to swiftly carry out reform was seen as a signal of the President’s support for the embattled minister, amid rising calls for him to dismiss her over the scandal ? although the presidential office said the meeting was to discuss and examine strategies to reform the institutions.

Moon did not mention anything specifically related to the scandal over Choo’s alleged influence peddling to obtain favours for her son while he was serving his mandatory military service when the former five-term lawmaker was chairwoman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) in 2017.

Moon and Choo’s remarks are seen to suggest that the government will keep up the momentum for reforming the prosecution and other powerful agencies despite the mounting criticism against Choo from the public and the opposition. Choo has also refused to respond to the calls for her resignation.

A recent survey showed that 57 percent of the people thought Choo’s son received special treatment, while 36 percent thought the case was being overly politicised.


Category: Korea

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