Gov't's Abuse of Power Grows More Blatant Every Day

      March 25, 2021 13:08

      The sexual harassment trial of former Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don was postponed at the request of his lawyer. The request was most likely aimed at minimizing any fallout for the ruling Minjoo Party in the April 7 by-elections. This would be highly irregular, yet Judge Ryu Seung-woo at the Busan District Court granted the continuance. Had he come under pressure from the government? Mysteriously, a trial concerning Cheong Wa Dae's meddling in the Ulsan mayoral election has also been delayed for more than a year.

      Oh summoned a female employee and sexually harassed her before the general election in April last year. Voters in Busan had the right to know about the incident before they cast their ballots, but the abuse was kept under wraps until the Minjoo Party had safely won the election and the mayor announced his resignation. Voters had been deceived, but the delays continued. It took prosecutors nine months to file an indictment, and now the trial itself had been postponed. This smells badly of abuse of power.

      The law firm representing Oh was -- surprise, surprise -- established by President Moon Jae-in, and its current head also serves as the campaign chief of the MP's Busan mayoral candidate. Did the judge decide to lend them a helping hand? After the postponement was announced, the victim said, "My nightmare has been extended by another three weeks." What kind of a legal system holds a trial on a sexual harassment case a year after the alleged offense and postpones it because of concerns over the election impact on the party of the accused?

      Over at the Education Ministry, Minister Yoo Eun-hae, who is also an MP lawmaker, has persistently turned a blind eye to the documents forged by fly-by-night Justice Minister Cho Kuk to help his daughter gain admission into medical school. A court has already ruled that the offense was committed, but Cho's daughter still got her medical license and in now an intern at a government hospital. Only now has the education minister belatedly ordered Pusan National University to investigate the case. Yoo seems to have been jolted into action after surveys showed the party losing support among young voters, who are sensitive about issues of fairness.

      The upcoming by-election for the mayors of Seoul and Busan are being held because their former mayors, who were both members of the ruling party, were engulfed in sexual harassment scandals. Rather than eating humble pie, the MP hastily changed regulations that banned contesting a by-election if one of its members forfeited the post through his or her own fault. The taxpayer has to fork out billions of won to organize the by-election, but the ruling party no longer has any shame. More bizarrely still, three female MP lawmakers referred to the victim of the former Seoul mayor only as "a person who claims to have been harmed," and they have been picked as co-heads and spokesperson for the ruling camp's candidate. This blatant disregard for common fairness and decency must be investigated.

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