Opposition digs in heels

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Parliamentary committees held confirmation hearings on President Moon Jae-in’s three Cabinet picks Wednesday, with opposition lawmakers in a more combative posture following Moon’s appointment of the antitrust body chief despite their objection.

The hearings on Democratic Party of Korea’s Reps. Do Jong-hwan, Kim Boo-kyum and Kim Young-choon were originally scheduled for 10 a.m., but could only begin at 2 p.m. due to a boycott by Liberty Korea Party lawmakers.

The main opposition party called an impromptu general meeting of lawmakers in the morning in protest against Moon’s decision a day earlier to appoint Kim Sang-jo as the new head of the Fair Trade Commission.

(Yonhap)

“(The party) criticizes the appointment of Kim Sang-jo, and will encourage tougher confirmation hearings to take place on the three nominees,” Liberty Korea Party interim leader Rep. Chung Woo-taik said.

Chung also warned that his party, which holds 107 of 300 National Assembly seats, will take stronger action if Moon appoints Kang Kyung-hwa as the foreign minister.

“(The party) has decided on the strategy of drawing up and executing stronger responses according to developments in the future.”

The appointment of Kim Sang-jo on Tuesday further fueled speculations that the president would also appoint Kang Kyung-wha as the minister of foreign affairs despite resistance from opposition parties. The former UN official has been criticized over a number of allegations, including the use of a false address to enroll her eldest daughter in an elite high school in Seoul.

The presidential office did not directly refute the rumors, saying the presidential office was doing its best to meet the expectations of the people and to normalize state affairs as quickly as possible.

Presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun also said the president holds the authority to name Cabinet members and that confirmation hearings do not represent an absolute standard in appointments.

Nominations may be withdrawn if critical faults are uncovered by the National Assembly, Park said, adding that the hearings serve as a reference point if no such faults are revealed.

As for the three nominees whose hearings took place Wednesday, Do has been tapped to lead the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Kim Boo-kyum for the Ministry of Interior and Kim Young-choon to head the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Do, a two-term lawmaker, has been accused of violating regulations regarding the use of land designated for agriculture. Kim Boo-kyum allegedly committed plagiarism in writing the thesis for his master’s degree from Yonsei University. It has also been alleged that the four-term lawmaker omitted some information in reporting assets held by his wife. Kim Boo-kyum has since refuted the related reports. Kim Young-choon, a third-term lawmaker, also faces allegations regarding minor misdemeanors including irregularities in his National Health Insurance registration.

The allegations brought against the three are of a relatively minor nature and past cases also suggest they are likely to receive the parliament’s approval.

Since parliamentary confirmation hearings on high-level government posts were introduced in 2000, 25 incumbent lawmakers have been nominated and all 25 passed their confirmation hearings.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

 

Source : The Korea Herald

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