President Park Geun Hye seen bracing for impeachment
Trevor Hong, Nov. 16, 2016, 9:21 a.m.
President Park Geun-hye will neither voluntarily step down from her sovereign post nor significantly relinquish her power, and would rather face impeachment -- such seems to be the message implied from her recent series of actions or, in fact, inaction.
Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday prolonged its silence over the president’s incoming moves, kindling the already-extensive public anger and prompting opposition circles to take forceful measures -- that is, impeachment.
Impeachment, though binding and irreversible, is largely deemed a political loophole for the embattled state chief, due to its time-consuming procedure and likelihood of ending in an anticlimax.
“I have nothing to add to the statement made by the counsel yesterday,” presidential spokesperson Jung Youn-kuk told reporters, dismissing questions on the imminent prosecutorial questioning of the president.
The Blue House thereby aligned itself with Park’s lawyer who, on the previous day, had requested the interrogation be postponed by about a week, claiming more time to look into the given allegations.
“A probe into the president should be carried out in a way that minimizes the burden onto her performance of duties so as to meet the spirit of the Constitution,” said Yoo Yeong-ha in a press briefing Tuesday.
Yoo, whose ties to Park go back to 2005 in the days of the former Grand National Party, was announced earlier that day as the legal representative to speak for Park during the prosecution’s questioning over the influence-peddling scandal concerning her confidante Choi Soon-sil.
Another Cheong Wa Dae official also said Wednesday, on condition of anonymity, that the president would not resign as the allegations suggested so far are not sufficient to force her out of the elected post.
“Our stance remains unchanged, that the president shall hand over as much power as possible within the boundary of law and answer to doubts through the investigation by prosecutors or by an independent counsel,” the official said.
“As president, Park has the constitutional obligation to maintain her position and will indeed guard it for her life.”
Such a stern response apparently alluded to Park’s readiness to face further backlash, particularly a plausible impeachment led by political parties.
The opposition camp, too, is well aware that impeachment is the less-feared option for Park, especially compared to immediate resignation.
“Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling Saenuri Party’s pro-president members are stalling for time in a desperate move to shun the calls for resignation,” Rep. Park Jie-won, floor leader and interim chief of the runner-up opposition People’s Party, wrote via his Facebook account.
Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, the party’s former chief and presidential hopeful, also asserted that the president has set to bracing herself for the inevitable impeachment.
Impeachment is the only legally binding sanction which the legislature may impose on a president who has violated the Constitution or other laws.
But it is also considered a political risk for the motioning party, especially if the motion fails to obtain a two-thirds quorum, which requires 200 or more votes in the 300-seat National Assembly. Even with parliamentary approval, the sanction may be thwarted upon the Constitutional Court’s dismissal.
Such was the case of the attempted impeachment of former liberal President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004, which politically backfired upon the then-opposition Grand National Party.