Rival parties refer each other to ethics body for probe
The political parties continue to refer members of their rivals to the National Assembly’s Ethics Committee, urging it to impose penalties for defamatory remarks made during audits. But critics say the move will not work because the committee is not functioning normally.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) referred Reps. Yeo Sang-kyoo and Kim Seung-hee of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) to the Assembly ethics committee recently for swearing at colleagues and allegedly making defamatory remarks about President Moon Jae-in during audit sessions.
DPK spokeswoman Rep. Jung Choun-sook said Yeo, chairman of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, pressured the prosecution when he said Song Samhyun, chief of the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office, should back off from the fast-track procedural issue.
Jung said Yeo swore at his rival lawmakers, calling them “cripples.” She also said the LKP’s Kim defamed President Moon Jae-in by saying “[Moon’s] amnesia can be a sign of early dementia.”
The LKP immediately criticized the DPK’s move, claiming it was to silence the LKP through the committee.
The LKP’s Kim also decided to refer Reps. Ki Dong-min to the ethics committee for making insulting remarks against her during a session.
However, doubts are rising over the body’s effectiveness as it is largely expected that both will end up not being punished as the committee is not functioning.
Not a single lawmaker has been penalized by the committee since the beginning of the current Assembly session.
Nearly 50 requests have been submitted to the panel calling for the punishment of lawmakers.
“Since the breakdown of the committee in June, political parties failed to form its body, including the appointment of its chair, due to a power game trying to take its leadership,” one DPK official said.
“People say the panel was made not to punish lawmakers but to show off that they are taking some political action against rival parties after somewhat being offended. As you can see, no one has been punished so far during the Assembly session.”