This Month at PSPD
60-day project urging the passage of Act on Independent Investigation Agency for High-ranking Public Official
In May 2019, PSPD Center for Judicial Watch published a biannual report on prosecutor’s office <100 years of Reforming the Prosecutor’s Office, Growing power of the Prosecutors> and expressed concerns about the power being imbalanced towards the prosecutor’s office as well as evaluated difficulties in reforming the prosecution of Moon administration. If the prosecution reform fails, it will not be too difficult for a political prosecutor to reappear and return to the days of “Republic of Prosecution” The reform measures of the Ministry of Justice and its self-reform by the prosecution has begun but it has stepped its foot in the door. Amongst all the agenda of the Center for Judicial Watch, it is doing its best to enact a “sufficient” Independent Investigation Agency for High-ranking Public Official Act to prosecute all subjects of investigation.
Center for Judicial Watch continues to announce its position to call for the establishment of an ”Independent Investigation Agency for High-ranking Public Official” and at the same time pressuring the National Assembly through launching ‘60-day project urging the passage of Act on Independent Investigation Agency for High-ranking Public Official.’ The center opened an online signature page that would send real-time calls for the passage of the law to members of the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee, and 9,000 citizens used this page. Also, the street signing campaign brought about 27,817 citizens’ participation. On 23rd of October, the Center collected 36,000 online and offline signatures and delivered them directly to the speaker of the National Assembly.
Currently, the two prosecution reform bills, which have been put on the National Assembly’s fast-track agenda, do not delegate the authority to the Investigation Agency for High-ranking Public Official to check and balance the prosecution. We need to create a proper agreement to give the Independent Investigation Agency for High-ranking Public Official the “sufficient” right to indict and strengthen democratic control. The Center for Judicial Watch will also work hard to reform the prosecution and establish a proper Independent Investigation Agency for High-ranking Public Official.
It’s time to reform National Assembly to the linked proportional representation
The National Assembly has become a blind spot and a bottleneck for reform. Without changing the National Assembly, there is a long way to go to change or reform Korean society. In response, PSPD is calling for the introduction of the linked proportional representation system through the <Joint Action for Political Reform>, a coalition of civic groups, while campaigning for political parties to freeze the parliamentary budget and form a social discussion body for summoning/judging lawmakers. In the process, we also resumed cooperation with the seven parliamentary and extra-parliamentary parties. On October 23, we held a joint press conference at the Rotender Hall of the National Assembly building, with slogans such as “Let’s reform the electoral system with a linked proportional representation system!” to draw the attention of civic and political groups and call for responsible participation of the ruling party.
The number of lawmakers should be increased in part, and at the same time, proportional representation seats should be guaranteed for lawmakers who are representing the weak to be expanded. Furthermore, even if the number of lawmakers increases, the total budget for the National Assembly, such as the allowance for lawmakers, should be ceased. And some reforms should also be carried out, such as the unification of various parliamentary benefits into salaries and the taxation of 100 percent. It is also a serious problem that even if a lawmaker violates the law or commits unethical conduct, there is no way to put the brakes on it at the moment. We will make sure to accept the parties’ promise to establish a pan-national discussion body to bring in lawmakers’ summons/judgment devices and come up with effective measures in the next 21st National Assembly.
On the 30th of October, with the above demand, civic, nationwide social and labor groups joined forces to hold a press conference, ‘Now is time to reform the National Assembly, introduce the linked proportionality system!’ We plan to run to the front of the National Assembly on November 23 at 2 p.m. to hold a large-scale civic rally calling for reform of the electoral system and the National Assembly before the plenary session of the fast-track election law revision. Please show your support and participation.
Activities on NIS Reform
A shocking incident has surfaced in which the National Intelligence Service (NIS) that it tried to spy on civilians through agents for about five years and manipulate the National Security Law case. Based on the testimony of the informant who served as an agent, the Center for Administrative Watch issued a fact-finding report on the whole case and urged the National Assembly and the government to investigate the case.
On September 24th, PSPD released a fact-finding report under the name of the “NIS Watch Network” and announced NIS’s illegal surveillance of civilians, fabrication of the National Security Law case and evidence, and expenditure on prostitution and entertainment. On October 7th, PSPD accused NIS officials involved in the case of abusing their authority under the NIS law, forging false charges under the National Security Law, and losing state coffers under the Act on the aggravated punishment, etc. of specific crimes.
The NIS announced that it would replace the inspector and conduct an internal inspection over the incident, but with no knowledge of the illegality for five years, we cannot expect thorough internal inspection results. In response, the “NIS Watch Network” urged the National Assembly to question the NIS for their responsibility about its’ illegal recording, illegal CCTV shooting, false statements, expenses on prostitution and other entertainment purposes.
There is no reason to delay the removal of NIS and transfer of its investigative rights because it has been revealed again that the NIS tried to inspect civilians and fabricate evidence to create a spy case. We are also planning to continue urging the government to revise the NIS law.
We stand with Hong Kong People
Hong Kong’s government and police crackdown on indiscriminate violence against demonstrations by Hong Kong citizens calling for democratization have gone beyond danger. On October 1st, an 18-year-old student was seriously injured by a live-fire shot by a Hong Kong police officer at a ‘Day of mourning’ event, the 70th National Foundation Day of China. Similarly, a journalist lost his sight after being hit by a rubber bullet from the police.
The main cause of Hong Kong’s escalating protests is excessive suppression such as police tear gas, water cannons, commandos, and live ammunition. In response, PSPD Center for International Solidarity held a press conference on October 4th with 65 Korean civic groups and Hong Kong people who live in Korea and support the Hong Kong protest. Center for International Solidarity called on Hong Kong government to stop indiscriminate violent crackdowns, guarantee freedom of assembly, and conduct an independent and thorough investigation into Hong Kong’s police response, including the protests.
The Hong Kong government should face up to why protests for democracy and human rights continue even after the withdrawal of the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill. Unconditional release and disposition of the arrested protesters must be made, and prompt response to the “white terror” against the citizens who took part in the rally is needed. South Korean civil society groups conveyed their support and solidarity to the citizens of Hong Kong and delivered their position to the Chinese Embassy in Seoul.
Publication Issue Report regarding 2019 Declared Value on House
The declared value of houses is lower than the actual transaction price, and the high-priced housing is calculated to be lower than the low-cost housing, so taxes on property holdings cannot ease the inequality in the asset. The Center for Tax Reform had raised the issue several times through empirical analysis of the housing price, and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport unveiled the realization rate of nationwide public price earlier this year, which increased the declared value on houses slightly compared to 2018.
However, according to a <Issue Report: 2019 Declared Value on House> released by the Center for Tax Reform on October 7th, the realization rate of declared value on houses by region and the actual transaction price is very different between the analysis of the PSPD and the announcement of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. In 2019, there was a 6.7% of deviation in the realization rate of declared value on metropolitan area apartments. Besides, we could still see the high vertical disproportionality between the real estate market price and the realization rate of declared values.
Also, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport said the realization rate of detached houses was 53.0% in 2019, but 51.1% was confirmed by PSPD analysis. The gap between the detached house’s declared price and the public price is larger than in the case of the apartments. And the realization rate of houses with actual transaction value between 1.5 billion won and 2.5 billion won was 40.1 percent, while the rate of those with 300 million won or less was 54.7 percent. Furthermore, these vertical reverse problems were more serious in detached houses than apartments.
This means there is a significant avoidance of property ownership taxes that must be paid by people who have high-value assets. To address the task of the times of reducing asset inequality, the government should set precise targets for normalizing the real estate’s declared value and urgently announce a road map.
Publication Issue Report regarding 2015~2018 case of overdue wages
The PSPD Committee for Fair Labor Society requested the Ministry of Employment and Labor to release information on the 2015-2018 cases of overdue wages and cases reported directly by the workers. The Committee analyzed the data by dividing the data into overall status, by industry, business size, causes, and results.
As a result, the number of labor who experience a delay in payment of wages hit a record high of about 570,000 and the scale of overdue wages recorded 1.7 trillion won in 2018. In particular, the chronic overdue wages at small businesses with fewer than 30 employees were very serious. We confirmed that overdue wages in manufacturing, construction, wholesale, food, and lodging industries had occurred in large numbers. Also, the percentage of workers with less than 30 employees have accounted for more than 75% of them every year, and the problem of overdue wages in small businesses is chronic.
Among the causes of wage arrears, the portion of “temporary management deterioration” was 57 percent in 2015, 54.7 percent in 2016, 56.9 percent in 2017, and 57.4 percent in 2018. Besides, the ratio of “bankruptcy of business” had been decreasing to 15.5 percent in 2015, 16.7 percent in 2016, 14.1 percent in 2017, and 12.3 percent in 2018. The results show that it is difficult to see a clear correlation between minimum wage increases and wage arrears.
In this report, the Committee for Fair Labor Society proposed ▲ tougher sanctions on overdue wages, ▲ expansion of victim’s rights, ▲ improvements in labor administration related to wage overdue. Also, we will continuously monitor the status of wage arrears and labor supervision of the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
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