DUP leader should comply with summons soon
The prosecution has asked Park Jie-won, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), to appear for questioning Thursday over allegations that he took bribes from savings banks.
He is suspected of receiving about 100 million won from two embattled savings banks ― Solomon and Bohae ― from 2008 to 2010 in return for influence peddling. Park, however, refused to comply with the summons, saying, ``The prosecution targeted me unfairly from political motivations.’’
For now, it appears that Park won’t go before the prosecution. For its part, the prosecution said it would notify the liberal party of the summons once again and then take measures to take him into custody. Prosecutors allegedly have secured evidence supporting charges against him and say he will be summoned as a suspect.
Park’s resistance is understandable, given that the nation’s prosecution has been notorious for siding with those in power and oppressing the political opposition, especially during the period of the dictatorial rule. Park and his party claim that the ruling camp is trying to water down the probe into a corruption scandal involving Lee Sang-deuk, the elder brother of President Lee Myung-bak.
Nonetheless, it would be wrong for Park to refuse the summons. More than anything else, the refusal is against the main opposition party’s avowed determination to give up the privileges granted to lawmakers ― in this case, exemption from arrest. His continuous refusal to be questioned will be interpreted as meaning that the party’s reform agendas, unveiled before and after the April 11 parliamentary elections, were lies.
The ruling Saenuri Party and the prosecution harbor suspicions that the DUP may try to protect its floor leader by calling another special session of the National Assembly right after the current session is over in early August. Then, the Assembly’s regular session will begin soon and the prosecution will have no chance to question him in the lead-up to the Dec. 19 presidential election.
Experience of the past is another reason why we claim he should comply with the summons; politicians deny receiving bribes before being summoned but most of them, almost without exception, are convicted of corruption later.
Park has no reason to avoid the prosecution’s probe if he is innocent. No matter that the Lee administration may be ``autocratic,’’ would the prosecution be able to arrest the floor leader of the main opposition party without reason? We are negative in our answer to this question.
Given that only five months remain before the presidential poll and that the possibility of regime change looms large, prosecutors won’t have the courage to do so. Rather, Park’s summons will help the DUP retake power in December if his innocence is proved through the prosecution’s investigation.
The more strongly Park argues his innocence and the DUP voices the need to reform the prosecution, the more his innocence will be doubted. In this regard, Park should comply with the prosecution’s summons as soon as possible.