The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Wednesday proposed a bill that requires the Board of Audit and Inspection to receive approval from the National Assembly before launching inspections on particular issues.
It is unprecedented and inappropriate for a majority party to seek to control the government watchdog agency.
The bill requires the board to submit inspection plans to related standing committees of the National Assembly for approval and later report inspection results to the Assembly.
This means that the National Assembly -- or its majority party, to be exact -- will have the right to approve or deny the board’s inspection of government agencies.
The bill bans any inspection to distinguish between right and wrong of “important government policy decisions,” such as the previous administration’s nuclear phase-out policy.
It also stipulates punishment of employees on the board with a maximum 7-year jail sentence or a fine of up to 70 million won ($50,300) if found to have violated “political neutrality.” Political neutrality is an ambiguous yardstick, so it will likely discourage inspection activities.
The board’s inspection is underway in connection with high-profile issues that broke out under President Moon Jae-in’s administration. Among them are its forced repatriation to North Korea of two fishermen despite their alleged intention to defect to South Korea, the government’s response to North Korea’s shooting death of a South Korean public servant who allegedly drifted into the North Korean waters, the delayed purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, the nuclear phase-out policy and the National Election Commission’s poor management of the early voting for the March 9 presidential election.
The board is expected to launch an inspection in connection with irregularities recently detected by the Office of Government Policy Coordination in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat through a sample survey of solar power generation projects pushed by the previous administration.
If the National Assembly dominated by the Democratic Party passes the bill, it will be hard to expect inspections of the above issues.
In May, the party unilaterally rushed through its bills to strip the prosecution of most of its investigative power in an apparent bid to block investigations into allegations involving the Moon government. This time, it seeks to incapacitate the government inspecting institute.
The board, though placed below the president on the organizational chart, does not receive presidential commands or directions. It inspects agencies and officials independently. Requiring it to receive prior approval from the National Assembly is as good as telling it not to do its duties. Its inspections will be distorted.
Inspecting government policies is naturally a responsibility of the board. The Democratic Party seeks to prohibit it from playing its intrinsic role. The party argues that the board’s ongoing inspection is political retaliation, so its inspection must be permitted by the National Assembly beforehand. This is far-fetched.
Rather, the bill stimulates curiosity about just how many wrongs the Moon administration has done such that the party is trying to control inspections.
Democratic Party and Justice Party lawmakers on Thursday proposed a joint bill to forbid companies from suing striking workers for damages caused by illegal acts they commit, so long as the damage is not caused directly by strikers’ violent and destructive behavior.
This bill prohibits victims from holding law breakers accountable for damages. It is absurd to protect illegal acts by law.
Offenders should pay damages for losses they are accountable for. There is no reason for unions to be exceptions. The bill goes against common sense.
What militant unions fear is being sued for damages. If the bill becomes law, illegal violent acts by minority radical unionists will be bolder.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering suffered damage due to the illegal occupation of one of its worksites by about 100 unionists of subcontractors. The damage from production delays is estimated at around 800 billion won ($576 million). Under the bill, DSME would not be able to file for compensation.
It seems that the Democratic Party wants to look like it is on the side of labor, particularly the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, regardless of the damage to companies and the many other union members who want to keep working.
The party seems to make bills only for its own interests -- this is legislative tyranny.