(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Jan. 31)

President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday vetoed the Special Act on Itaewon Disaster. The president's decision was foreshadowed on Jan. 9, when members of the governing People Power Party (PPP) stormed out of the main hall in the legislature before the majority Democratic Party (DP) unilaterally passed it. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo underscored that the special act had to be vetoed because of the unrestricted powers of the special investigation committee - such as its order for suspects to accompany investigators and its direct request for search and seizure warrants from the court. The prime minister criticized the special act for possible violations of basic rights stipulated in our Constitution. Han also expressed concerns about a lack of fairness in appointing 11 members of the special investigation committee. For instance, among the 11 members of the special committee, four each should be recommended by the PPP and DP, and the remaining three by the National Assembly speaker from the DP through his consulta tions with related parties. In that case, the special committee will likely be comprised of members close to the DP. If such a committee wields enormous powers like search and seizure, they can be abused to launch a political offensive in the name of investigative activities. It certainly goes too far if the special committee can look into investigation records of even suspended cases. The PPP denounces the special act for "trying to create jobs for former democracy fighters," or current DP lawmakers. In fact, a large number of people from liberal civic groups became members of the special investigation committee on the 2014 Sewol ferry tragedy. If they had achieved significant findings, it could have been better. But they didn't - even after spending more than 70 billion won ($52.6 million) over eight years. President Yoon's veto certainly reflects such concerns. But it is not fair for the government to wrap up the Itaewon disaster with the presidential veto. Citizens are disappointed in the government bec ause no one takes responsibility for the 159 deaths. Despite the obscure upper limits of accountability, someone from the government should have come forward and taken political or moral responsibility to ease the deepening public sentiment against them. But no one did. As the special act on the Itaewon disaster was vetoed by the president, it must go through a re-vote. We hope the two parties renew their negotiations, remove clauses with room for unconstitutionality and put it to a vote. If the PPP humbly listens to the public opinion - and if the DP gives up its intention to take political advantage of the case - they can reach an agreement. Source: Yonhap News Agency