"Suspension of Party Position When Prosecuted" Democratic Party Decides to Keep Existing Article in Party Constitution after a Heated Debate over "Bulletproofing" Lee Jae-myung

Kim-Yun Na-yeong 입력 2022. 8. 18. 17:08
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Woo Sang-ho, chairperson of the Democratic Party of Korea’s emergency response committee, speaks at a committee meeting at the National Assembly on August 17. National Assembly press photographers

On August 17, the Democratic Party of Korea’s emergency response committee decided not to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 80 of the party’s constitution, which stipulates that the party can suspend the status of a party member prosecuted for corruption. The committee took a step back after lawmakers criticized the revision as an attempt to make lawmaker Lee Jae-myung “bulletproof” in a general meeting of lawmakers and after the public showed a less than favorable response.

In a press briefing immediately after the emergency committee meeting this day, party spokesperson Shin Hyun-young announced, “The emergency committee decided to retain Paragraph 1 of Article 80 of the party’s constitution.” The article in question states, “When a party member in any level is prosecuted for violating corruption related laws, such as bribery and the receiving of illegal political funds, the secretary-general can suspend the party member from conducting his/her duties at the same time he/she is prosecuted and request an ethics inquiry on any level.”

However, the emergency committee decided to revise Paragraph 3 of Article 80, which stipulates a remedy for cases involving unjust reasons for prosecution, such as political oppression. Paragraph 3 of Article 80 states, “In cases where unjust reasons, such as political oppression, are recognized, the disciplinary measure can be canceled or suspended after a decision by the party’s central ethics inquiry. In this case, the ethics inquiry must review and vote on the case within 30 days.” The emergency committee changed the remedy device from the ethics inquiry to the party affairs committee. The party affairs committee is a body of one hundred members including the party leadership and the heads of the metropolitan and provincial party offices, and it oversees the execution of party decisions.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Democratic Party’s convention preparatory committee decided to amend Article 80 of the party’s constitution, changing the criterion for suspending the status of a party member charged with corruption from “when he is charged” to “when he is sentenced to imprisonment by a lower court.” Paragraph 3 of Article 80 allowed the emergency committee and the Supreme Council to cancel the suspension even when the member receives a sentence of imprisonment or stronger, if they deem the decision to be unjust political oppression. The party spokesperson explained the reason why they changed the remedy device to the party affairs committee and not the Supreme Council and said, “We judged that having a deliberation body more extensive than the Supreme Council would provide more public confidence.”

Pro-Lee Jae-myung lawmakers clashed with the other lawmakers over the amendment of Article 80 in a general meeting of lawmakers. Lawmakers who did not support Lee had argued that the people could think that the Democratic Party was amending the party constitution to protect Lee Jae-myung. This day, Shin explained, “After listening to opinions and discussions in the party convention preparatory committee meetings and the meeting of lawmakers, we have prepared the most reasonable amendment as a compromise based on the decision by the emergency committee.”

The Democratic Party plans to vote on the amendment in a party affairs committee meeting on August 19 and in the party’s central committee on August 24.

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