|Dignitaries pose at Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Seoul, Thursday, during a public hearing on the establishment of an independent investigative body for high-ranking officials' corruption cases. From left are Nam Ki-myung, head of the taskforce team on the establishment, Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, and Korean Bar Association President Lee Chan-hee. Yonhap|
By Kim Rahn
Another bipartisan conflict is stirring over recommendations for the head of a new investigative body for corruption allegations against high-profile public officials, with the main opposition party claiming the ruling bloc is pushing ahead with the establishment of the organization to select a figure the DPK favors.
Last Friday, President Moon Jae-in requested the National Assembly to recommend the candidates for the position of chief for the new organization soon to meet with the commencement of operations on July 15, when the law governing the new body is set to take effect, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
The new organization, independent from other law enforcement bodies, will be tasked with investigating corruption cases involving the President and his family members, municipality heads, high-profile officials at central and local governments, as well as judges and prosecutors. According to the law, the Assembly should form a committee to recommend the chief candidates. The seven members of the committee consist of one figure selected each by justice minister, National Court Administration head and Korean Bar Association chief, and two each by the ruling and opposition parties.
Once the committee recommends two candidates, the President will nominate one for the role, who will then undergo a confirmation hearing.
As the new organization has been one of President Moon's key policy goals, the ruling bloc is rushing into finishing the establishment by July 15, or at least by the end of July. However, the main opposition United Future Party (UFP), which had been negative to the organization from the beginning, is not cooperating. Rather, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and the UFP have yet to start discussing the recommendation committee issue as they have been in conflict over how to form the Assembly's 18 standing committees ― a more urgent issue.
Even if the recommendation committee is formed, a candidate can be decided on only when six among the seven members agree, meaning candidate recommendation would be impossible if the two committee members selected by the opposition party veto the decision.
To speed up the recommendation, Rep. Back Hye-ryun of the DPK submitted a bill earlier this month, in which the Assembly speaker would be able to set a deadline by which parties need to select the recommendation committee members, and if a party fails to meet the deadline, the speaker can have another negotiation group take over the selection.
The UFP is protesting the bill, saying the DPK aims to take the opposition's share for committee member selection, so eventually a pro-Moon administration figure can become the head of the new organization.