|President-elect Park Geun-hye (right) speaks to chief of staff nominee Huh Tae-yeol at the National Assembly in this February, 2010 file photo. (Yonhap News)|
President-elect Park Geun-hye on Monday named her close ally Huh Tae-yeol as her chief of staff in the latest appointment of top-level presidential secretaries.
The presidential transition committee’s state planning and coordination subcommittee chief Yoo Min-bong was tapped as the senior secretary for state planning while prosecutor-turned-lawyer Kwak Sang-do was named senior secretary for civil affairs. Former SBS Media Holding chief Lee Nam-ki was appointed as senior secretary for public affairs.
The six remaining senior secretarial posts will be unveiled within two or three days, said transition committee spokesman Yoon Chang-jung.
|From left: Huh Tae-yeol, Yoo Min-bong, Kwak Sang-do, Lee Nam-ki (Yonhap News)|
Park’s incoming government is headed to an anticlimactic start due to the extended deadlock in negotiations over the government reorganization plans at the National Assembly and her delayed appointments of Cabinet members.
The confirmation hearing for her prime minister-designate Chung Hong-won is scheduled to be held this Wednesday and Thursday. Minister nominees are expected to undergo hearings after the Feb. 25 inauguration of Park.
Park is anticipated to start off her tenure with the members of the outgoing Lee Myung-bak administration pro tem.
The designations of Huh, a three-term veteran lawmaker who previously represented Busan, and Yoo, a public administration professor who has managed Park’s government reorganization blueprint, immediately drew criticism from the main opposition Democratic United Party.
“This latest batch of appointments makes us concerned about whether her initial principal of ‘people’s grand union’ and ‘fair personnel decision’ has already collapsed. Is it not true that Park is filling up her (government) with ‘yes men,’” said DUP spokesman Jung Sung-ho.
Presidential office staff are not subject to parliamentary approval.
Huh has been a long-time pro-Park member and worked with the president-elect as secretary-general in 2006 when Park was the party’s leader.
Huh will be assisting Park in general affairs and coordinating communication between the National Assembly and the government. He will also be heading the presidential personnel affairs committee to oversee the nominations of ministerial and vice-ministerial posts.
“I will assist Park to successfully realize the state philosophy of creating a country where everyone is happy,” Huh told reporters after the announcement.
The appointments came a day after Park completed her Cabinet formation by naming 11 ministers on Sunday. The nominations based on her yet-to-be-approved government lineup triggered strong protest from the DUP that claimed the move was in “disregard” of the parliamentary process. The party vowed tough vetting of the nominees, many of whom are already facing looming allegations over suspected tax evasion and real estate speculation, and even over their history of nationality or military service.
The Assembly’s plenary session initially scheduled for later in the day did not convene as the rivaling parties failed to narrow their differences over such measures as the transferring of the communications functions of the Korea Communications Commission under the newly forming science ministry.
The next plenary session is scheduled for Feb. 26, but an earlier meeting can be convened upon the consensus of the major parties.
By Lee Joo-hee
|A placard and national flags hang on the building of the National Assembly Monday where Park Geun-hye will swear in as the 18th president on Feb. 25. The sign has her inauguration slogan, “Will Open the New Era of Hope.” (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|