|Shin Kyung-min. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)|
The parliamentary confirmation hearing and vetting process for high-level government officials should be strengthened with legal means to ensure truthful responses, says Rep. Shin Kyung-min of the Democratic United Party.
“Of course there are problems, but strengthening and expanding the system while fixing the problems is the right direction. That is what history points to,” Shin said. He said that in the 13 years since the introduction of the system, there are people who were treated unfairly.
Since the parliamentary confirmation process became a central political issue, Shin has proposed a revising the Personnel Hearing Act to strengthen the system.
The revision, proposed by Shin and nine other DUP lawmakers, calls for adding clauses for penalizing candidates if proven to have given false testimony at confirmation hearings. In addition, the proposed revision will enable lawmakers to request nominations to be rescinded if false information is provided, and extend the confirmation process to 30 days.
If approved, lawmakers will also be given the power to summon candidates if they refuse to appear at the hearing without due cause, and the candidates will be required to submit financial and national pension records going back 10 years.
Shin also suggests establishing an institutionalized system for vetting candidates before the parliamentary hearing, and expanding the system to include candidates for positions lower down the hierarchy.
“Capability contains within it ability and morality. If a very able person’s judgments are clouded by questionable morals, then he is not capable,” Shin said.
“(Compromised morals) will be self-evident in the policies made by such people in high posts. (Lack of morals) will lead to immoral policies, and corruptions of associates and family (of government officials) all stem from this.”
He added that the corruption scandals involving high-level government officials that occurred during the Lee Myung-bak administration were evidence that hoping for good results without moral conduct was a “hollow dream.”
Regarding changes suggested by the Saenuri Party, Shin said that the ruling party was “moving against the times.”
“(The Saenuri Party) is moving is a strange direction,” Shin said. Following President-elect Park Geun-hye’s comments regarding the harshness of the confirmation hearing, the Saenuri Party formed a taskforce to deal with related issues.
“(Related developments) demonstrate that the party will strive to achieve what the president-elect says at any cost. This is something that raises questions about the meaning of a political party’s existence.”
As part of its solution, the ruling party has suggested conducting the confirmation process along two separate tracks. In the first part, issues concerning a candidate’s ethics and private life will be dealt with, and that information will not be disclosed to the public.
Only those deemed fit will move on to the second stage where his or her policies and professional qualities will be dealt with.
“Who will believe the results if personal matters are kept from the public? Information should be kept undisclosed only in very exceptional cases, such as medical conditions,” Shin said.
Shin also said that claims that too much information about a candidate is being dug up is based on the belief that ethics are secondary to ability.
As for criticism that candidates are dealt with in a similar way to criminals, Shin said that the problem arises from systemic inefficiency.
“There is too little time. The preparations for the hearing need to be made and the hearing itself conducted within 20 days,” Shin said.
“The questioning time is also too short. Only 10 minutes are given to each committee member, and the candidate needs to answer the question in that time, too, which forces lawmakers to keep their word short and to cut off candidates if an answer is not straight to the point.”
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com