Park in hot water for criticizing confirmation hearing process
Opposition, critics call for tougher ethical yardstick for public servants
Published : 2013-01-31 20:27
Updated : 2013-01-31 20:27
President-elect Park Geun-hye’s criticism of the confirmation hearing process following her prime minister-nominee’s resignation stirred controversy Thursday, with opponents slamming Park for bypassing the calls to sharpen her personnel vetting style.
With time running out until Park’s Feb. 25 inauguration, prominent figures with verified backgrounds were being discussed as the likely candidate to be named prime minister.
A day after Kim Yong-joon, Parks’ transition committee chairman, withdrew from his prime minister nomination over allegations of ethical lapses, Park reportedly said during a meeting with party members, “I am worried that people of ability may refuse to take on high-level posts because they are afraid of the confirmation hearing where even their private life is attacked and their families are put under scrutiny.”
During the luncheon that took place on Wednesday, Park expressed dissatisfaction by saying, “It is a problem for the confirmation hearing to be carried out in a way a candidate is grilled like a criminal would be.” Park also reportedly cited the U.S. as an ideal case in reiterating that the verification process should not become character assassination.
But, Democratic United Party Rep. Min Byung-doo countered in a media interview, “In the U.S. there are more than 200 questions that the nominees for public posts must answer prior to the confirmation hearing. And they are banned from any public position for five years if false information is provided.”
Kim, a former Constitutional Court chief, stepped down from his nomination after facing suspicions of real estate speculation and questions over his sons’ exemption from the military service.
The allegations, both of which are frequently visited agendas for high-ranking appointees, exposed loopholes in Park’s personnel screening process, which seemed to have skipped the basic background check or official verification system provided through Cheong Wa Dae, the police or the National Tax Service.
“It is putting the cart before the horse for (Park) to say there is a problem with the (confirmation hearing) when she has failed to accurately nominate a person through the proper system,” said DUP floor leader Rep. Park Ki-choon at a party meeting on Thursday.
The confirmation hearing system was introduced in Korea in June 2000 during the Kim Dae-jung administration.
Positions subject to parliamentary hearings included the Supreme Court’s chief justice, the Constitutional Court chief, prime minister and Board of Audit and Inspection chairman. Hearings were later expanded to all ministers under the Roh Moo-hyun government in 2005.
Meanwhile, sources said Park was looking into potential candidates for her chief of staff, which will have heightened political responsibility.
The chief of staff under Park’s new Cheong Wa Dae plan is expected to wield stronger influence by also heading the presidential committee on personnel affairs.
As for the alternative nominee for the prime minister, “stability and rectitude” are likely to be prioritized.
Potential candidates include former Supreme Court judge Jo Moo-jae, former Constitutional Court justice Mok Young-joon, former Constitutional Court chief Lee Kang-kook and Kim Young-ran, former head of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission.
Some sources also suggested Ahn Dae-hee, former judge and former head of Park’s political reform committee during her presidential campaign, could also be tapped for the post.