National Assembly confirms Chung as prime minister
Published : 2013-02-26 15:06
Updated : 2013-02-26 16:51
The National Assembly on Tuesday confirmed former veteran prosecutor Chung Hong-won as prime minister in a first step to form the Cabinet of new President Park Geun-hye.
Chung, 68, was named as Park's first prime minister earlier this month, after serving as chief of her ruling Saenuri Party's candidate nomination committee ahead of last April's general elections. Before that, he served as a public prosecutor for nearly 30 years and worked as a lawyer after retiring from public office.
Chung's confirmation motion passed the National Assembly during a plenary session by a vote of 197-67. Eight other votes were deemed invalid in the secret vote in which 272 lawmakers took part.
The Saenuri Party currently holds a majority in parliament with 153 out of a total of 300 seats.
In South Korea, all Cabinet nominees must undergo parliamentary confirmation hearings before taking office. Some nominees in the past have resigned during the process under pressure over allegations of ethical lapses and other misconduct.
Chung also underwent a series of confirmation hearings last week during which he was grilled by lawmakers over a series of alleged ethical lapses, including tax evasion, property speculation, and draft dodging by his son.
In a joint report submitted to the Assembly just before the vote, ruling and opposition party lawmakers handling Chung's confirmation process said the nominee had an understanding of overall issues, based on his experiences and "rational perception of history." The report also said Chung showed a "strong will" to exercise the greater authority Park has pledged to give her prime minister.
However, it also noted that Chung revealed a "lack of understanding" for state affairs and failed to clear suspicions that he earned an unfairly large salary as a lawyer and engaged in property speculation, among other issues.
Park, who took office as South Korea's first woman president on Monday, will give Chung his certificate of appointment at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae later in the day, officials said.
It could take up to weeks before Park's Cabinet is launched in its full form, while the remaining 17 Cabinet nominees undergo the parliamentary confirmation process and the ruling and opposition parties try to reach a compromise on the president's government restructuring plan. (Yonhap News)