Lessons from South Korea

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MP SPEAKS The people of South Korea cannot, for once, accept any of their leaders being involved in any corruption.

As a Muslim, I find it interesting that despite the fact that South Korea is not dominated by a Muslim population and hence are not exposed to the prophetic tradition which reads “An offeror and an offeree of corruption are dwelled in hellfire”, yet, their commitment to fighting corruption is definitely higher than many Muslims, even in any Muslim-dominated nations.

That is why the South Koreans could not tolerate the ‘corrupt practices’ perpetrated by their former president, Park Geun-hye. Park was implicated with corruption and cronyism. She was alleged to have conspired with her confidante Choi Soon-sil to pressure several companies, including Samsung, to give a huge donation to two non-profitable foundations set up by Choi.

I pause momentarily here. It is fascinating to note that, coincidentally, in a financial scandal in our Bolehland involving none other than our prime minister, we also hear of the donation of big money - RM2.6 billion. We also hear that our prime minister has a cordial friendship with Jho Low.

It seems that our situation is similar to South Korea. Truth be told, there are actually huge differences. In South Korea, Park was duly impeached by parliament. She was also found guilty by a constitutional court with a stunning vote of 8-0. Here, however, it never happened that way.

Being a parliamentarian, I also find it tempting to emulate my fellow parliamentarians in South Korea. There, the parliament really played its crucial role in democracy - unbridled check and balance of the executive.

Last December, the Korean parliament voiced out its abhorrence against its ‘corrupt’ president by impeaching her with a very large margin of votes. That, in my view, is how the parliament should have acted. Unfortunately, in our beloved country, I dare to say that our legislature has become only a rubber stamp.

I don’t think, given the present political climate, the Malaysian Parliament would be able to impeach our prime minister ever. As Parliamentarians, we cannot even raise the issue of 1MDB in our so-called August House.

The Korean parliament did the impeachment against its own president with a convincing number of votes. The bill for impeaching Park managed to secure 234 votes out of 300 members of parliament. The South Korean law stipulates that in order to impeach the president, the parliament must have at least 200 votes supporting the impeachment.

The validity of such an impeachment may be challenged in the constitutional court. Park had challenged her impeachment in the constitutional court but failed. The court, on the contrary, duly confirmed the parliamentary impeachment against Park with its mesmerising verdict.

We may ask ourselves as to why both the parliament and court were very bold in ousting the president who was still holding office. I would say that happened because both institutions are not detached from the people. They knew that they represented the ordinary people on the street. They shared the plight of ordinary people combating corruption, especially among the upper echelon.

The people in South Korea fought through a ferocious winter, participating in gargantuan assemblies demanding that the authorities oust Park from the office for committing corruption and cronyism. The parliament and constitutional court duly heard and in turn endorsed their voices.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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