Will Ex-President Lee Myung-bak face Assembly probe?
Over ‘wasting’ of $92 bil in overseas resources, 4-river, weapons investments
Will former President Lee Myung-bak face National Assembly investigations on the controversial ‘wasteful’ investments made by his government in the overseas resources development projects, four-river development works and the alleged defense industry irregularities, which opposition political party lawmakers claim to total over 100 trillion won (US$92 billion)?
Korean-language Views and Views reported on Nov. 15, 2014 that on the opposition camp’s demand for a National Assembly probe into the cases not only the opposition lawmakers but also some of the ruling Saenurity Party members of the National Assembly agree to thorough investigations by the Assembly.
Views and Views quoted Rep. Park Min-sik of the Saenuri Party as saying, “If the taxpayers’ money was wasted in these projects, we should carry out not only the National Assembly investigation into the cases but also probes by other organizations such as the Prosecution authorities and Special Prosecutors.”
The young prosecutor-turned Saenuri Party national assemblyman is known to have many supporters in the ruling party supporting his position although there also are opponents who are mostly pro-Lee lawmakers such as Rep. Lee Jae-oh.
On this situation, opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) lawmakers say that the government of President Park Geun-hye has wasted its first year in dealing with problems deriving from the controversy over the National Intelligence Service case of suspected meddling in the Presidential election through the use of social network services, the second year in handling the long drawn-out case of the Sewol Ferry, and now she has the tough task to recover the sagging national economy where she is trying to reform the public servants’ pension system, which is by no means so easy. However, the national economy shows no sign of recovery due to the rapidly deteriorating economic conditions at home and abroad.
An NPAD assemblyman said, “If the Park government should fail to improve the economy in her third year in office, she would have to face the aggravation of the public opinion about her government which will pose her many difficulties. This is because there are the National Assembly elections coming in 2016 and then the Presidential election in 2017.”
In this situation, he said, President Park would not be able to turn a blind eye to the people’s demand for a thorough investigation into various irregularities suspected to have been perpetrated by the Lee government, which have dealt a fatal blow to the national economy of Korea and which are now posing great economic difficulties to the incumbent government.
The NPAD assemblyman was confident that the National Assembly would surely probe into the suspected irregularities of President Lee allegedly perpetrated during his tenure of office.
However, supporters of former President Lee in the Saeuri Party call such a move of the opposition camp as a ‘political retaliation and offensive’ and that they will not tolerate it.
Attention is now focused on what decision President Park would make on this situation.
At this juncture, former President Lee is known to have told his former top aides, “Oh, that, don’t worry too much about it.”
According to Korean-language daily Dong-A Ilbo and a number of other news sources, Lee made the remarks at a dinner with his former top Presidential secretaries.
Reports said that the aides were exasperated over the allegations made on the overseas resources development investments and other projects of the Lee government. One of the participants in the dinner is known to have said, “President Lee was very optimistic about the situation.”
In a telephone conversation with Dong-A, former Presidential Chief Secretary Lee Donggwan, one of the participants in the dinner said: “Our position is that it is not appropriate for the opposition parties to try to wage a political offensive over the overseas resources and other development investments. Hasen’t the Board of Audit Inspection (BAI) already carried out investigations on the overseas resources development on two different occasions? As far as we know, there has not been a case of corrupt practices or irregularities in connection with such projects. We haven’t done anything wrong. I think that when time is right, President Lee will officially issue a statement on the matter or directly speak to the people about it. However, the dinner meeting on Nov. 12 was nothing related with such a matter and I wish that you would not attach any other meaning to the dinner.”
In the face of rapidly growing demand of the society, especially the opposition political camp, for an appropriate action against former President Lee over his alleged ‘wasteful’ investments, the NPAD claims that the amount involved totals over 100 trillion won (US$92 billion) and seeks to carry out a parliamentary investigation of the cases at all cost.
The dinner, according to Dong-A, was attended by more than 10 former top aides of Lee’s second-phase line-up, including, besides Lee Dong-Kwan, former Presidential Chief Secretary Jeong Jong-gill, former Director Yoon Jin-sik of the Presidential Policy Office, former Presidential Senior Secretary Kim Sung-hwan on Foreign Relations and National Security.
The NPAD has begun a campaign to conduct a thorough probe into the three major controversial cases of suspected irregularities and mismanagement of the national budgets, ie., the four-river projects, overseas resources development investments and defense industry irregularities.
On this move, according to Korean-language reports, the ruling Saenuri party indicated that it would favorably consider the NPAD demand for the National Assembly investigation into the three major cases of suspected ‘wasteful' spending of the taxpayers’ money during the government of former President Lee?on condition that the NPAD would agree to approve the Public Servant Pension Reform Plan of the government and the ruling party.
The Korean media are keen to the possibility of the actual implementation of investigation into the cases of ‘wasting taxpayers’ money’ and other irregularities suspected to have been made through abuse of power by the Lee government in the New Year when the government of President Park Geun-hye greets the third year of her government.
Floor Leader Woo Yunkeun of the NPAD reportedly told a party leaders’ meeting on Nov. 3, 2014, “A total of over 100 trillion won (US$92 billion) of the taxpayers’ money was wasted by the four-river projects, overseas resources development and defense industry irregularities, and the National Assembly investigation into these cases must be realized. A recent Research View polls showed that three out of four persons in Korea demand and support the National Assembly investigation into the cases of former President Lee Myung-bak.”
Woo then said, “Demand of the parliamentary probe into these cases is a fully justified right of the taxpayers and it is also the responsibility of the National Assembly and there is no reason why the ruling and opposition parties should say pros and cons about the justification in carrying out the parliamentary investigation.”
NPAD parliamentary spokesman Rep. Park Wanju, too, gave a separate briefing session and said, “The National Assembly investigation into these national budget wasting cases must be carried out and on this matter both the ruling and opposition party representatives have found a common ground between the floor leaders of the two parties.”
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