Transport Ministry Must Submit to Independent Probe

      December 23, 2014 13:01

      Choi Jong-seok

      Transport Minister Suh Seoung-hwan in a parliamentary briefing on Monday admitted that his ministry had acted improperly and showed a lack of sincerity in its handling of the Korean Air "nut rage" incident and that its fairness and impartiality were therefore open to question. The minister's admission came no less than two weeks after the probe began on Dec. 8.

      Up until a week ago Suh was adamant that his ministry had been perfectly fair. When asked by reporters whether its impartiality may have been compromised because the ministry's investigative team of six members included two former staff of the airline, Suh said, "I am confident that such concerns are unnecessary." He went even further by adding, "Not everyone can become an aviation safety inspector. They handle technical details based on their experience but the remaining officials are in charge of the investigation, so there is no room for bias." 

      But Suh's confidence evaporated a day later. The purser who was forced off the plane because a bag of nuts had been served incorrectly to the Korean Air heiress revealed that ministry officials showed Korean Air executives his account of the incident and he was leaned on to revise it no fewer than a dozen times in favor of the carrier.

      Suh told lawmakers that he would turn to prosecutors to investigate his ministry if an ongoing internal inspection revealed any signs of collusion with Korean Air. "I will make sure that strict penalties are levied if our inspection finds that such collusion indeed did take place," he said. 

      But lawmakers understandably scoffed at Suh's pledge and said they want the Board of Audit and Inspection to intervene. The public agrees with them.

      By Choi Jong-seok from the Chosun Ilbo's News Desk 

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