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[Editorial] Legitimate inspection

Moon’s former chief of staff, ruling party press BAI as it inspects nuclear phaseout decision

The Board of Audit and Inspection began an inspection recently to determine whether the government followed proper procedures when it established its nuclear phaseout policy.

Three days later, on Jan. 14, Im Jong-seok, President Moon Jae-in’s former chief of staff, posted on Facebook that Board of Audit and Inspection Chairman Choe Jae-hyeong was crossing the line.

“We told Choe to keep an eye on the house but he is trying to occupy the main room of the house,” Im said on Facebook. “We told him to work with a sense of ownership but he poses as the owner.”

His remarks show that he expects the agency to be a running dog for those in power. They indicate that Choe is acting like the master of the house, but the real master is Moon. Im effectively told the chairman not to be so impudent as to intervene in what the master is doing. This is an arrogant way of thinking.

The masters of this nation are not those in power, but its people. The people entrusted the management of the state to Moon for five years. The nuclear phaseout shakes the nation’s energy makeup to its foundation. Obviously, the government must follow proper procedures when it makes such important policy decisions.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea immediately joined Im in criticizing the board, condemning the inspection as “an obvious political audit” and an “abuse of authority” that undermines the president.

These remarks are unreasonable in many ways. They misrepresent a legitimate audit as a political act.

It is the board’s duty to determine whether agencies follow proper procedures in formulating and implementing their policies. Furthermore, the board began the inspection not on its own but at the request of a former opposition party lawmaker and 547 citizens in June 2019.

The board says the inspection does not aim to decide whether the nuclear phaseout policy was right or wrong but whether related officials complied with procedural requirements.

The nuclear phaseout policy is formally based on an electric power plan that was revised without an energy plan being revised first. The former is a sub-plan of the latter. The board is said to suspect that errors may have occurred in the process of revising the electric power plan.

The board is a constitutional institution that is independent of the executive branch when it comes to conducting business, though the president appoints its chairperson. In essence, it is authorized to judge whether the administration is doing its duties legitimately.

But Im and the ruling party openly disregard this. They treat the board as a puppet of the executive and legislative branches. They defy constitutional principles and the rule of law.

Moon pushed for the nuclear phaseout almost unilaterally and without consulting nuclear energy experts. There were no public debates on the policy, let alone discussions in the National Assembly.

In June 2017, the Moon regime declared it would replace nuclear energy, a main source of the nation’s electricity, with renewable energy. Just seven months later, in January 2018, the Cabinet approved the electric power plan in question.

The Moon government closed down a refurbished nuclear power plant and suspended the construction of two atomic power plants, incurring huge losses to the national coffers. Korea’s world-leading nuclear power plant technology and related industries are tottering due to the drastic, unrealistic policy. The government has been accused of manipulating the facts on the economic viability of the nuclear power plant that was to be shut down under Moon’s policy, by having public officials destroy documents to hide the manipulation.

A ruling party lawmaker once argued that people effectively supported Moon’s nuclear phaseout policy because it was one of his presidential campaign pledges. The Moon regime should remember that nearly 60 percent of voters didn’t support Moon in the presidential election. Rational presidents reconsider their pledges if they turn out to be ill-advised and unrealistic.

The board is an agency that inspects whether the government is doing its duties properly. Attempts to put pressure on the board will rather fan public suspicions that the government may have done something wrong.
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