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Confirmation Hearings: Mere Formality?

Posted February. 10, 2006 07:01,   


President Roh Moo-hyun issued letters of appointment to five new cabinet members, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Science and Technology Kim Woo-sik, and the police chief nominee, Lee Taek-soon, after the National Assembly’s confirmation hearings for those appointees finished on February 9.

In response, opposition Grand National Party (GNP) lawmakers demanded the president cancel his appointment of three ministers—Deputy Prime Minister Kim, Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok, and Health Minister Rhyu Si-min—calling them “absolutely unqualified.”

Claiming that cabinet member confirmation hearings have degenerated into a mere formality, the GNP plans to present a National Assembly Law revision bill allowing members of a National Assembly hearing committee to vote on the eligibility of a hearing subject to the extraordinary session of the National Assembly later this month.

“As long as it is not against the Constitution, we will take votes and ask the president to respect the outcome of the votes in the appointment process,” said GNP floor leader Lee Jae-oh in a press conference.

The National Assembly held a plenary session yesterday to listen to reports on the confirmation hearings on five nominees, including Deputy Prime Minister Kim, from relevant standing committees. National Assembly Speaker Kim Won-ki sent the reports to President Roh, the appointing authority. When it came to Rhyu, the assembly was unable to adopt a report on his confirmation hearing, as ruling and opposition party members of the National Assembly Health and Welfare Committee were extremely divided over his qualifications.

“There will be no changes regarding their nomination,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Man-soo said, making it clear that President Roh would push for the appointment of all six nominees once their confirmation hearings were finished.

Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae held a personnel recommendation meeting on that day, where they agreed to dismiss Vice Unification Minister Lee Bong-jo and Vice Health Minister Song Jae-seong and discussed the selection of their successors. It is reported that because the commander general of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency post currently remains vacant, Eo Chung-soo, the chief of the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency, is highly likely to be appointed.

Yong-Gwan Jung Yeon-Wook Jung yongari@donga.com jyw11@donga.com