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Officials Explain Minister’s Firing

Posted August. 26, 2006 03:22,   


The Steering Committee meeting of National Assembly on Friday called Lee Byung-wan, the presidential chief of staff, Lee Baek-man, senior presidential secretary for public information, and Yang Jung-chul, a presidential publicity secretary to question the background in sacking Yoo Jin-ryong, former vice minister of culture and tourism.

Lawmakers of both ruling and opposition parties called for an apology and investigation into the truth behind, "The retaliatory dismissal of Yoo in response to refusing to deliver on personnel orders from Cheong Wa Dae."

In response, Lee Byung-wan said, "Although there were some faults found in his policies, it wasn’t the cause of Yoo`s dismissal. In fact, we first agreed to reserve our decision of replacing him, but we later changed our mind because of his ‘inappropriate words and actions’ at the last moment (of the deliberations)."

Lee, however, declined to elaborate on what the "inappropriate words and actions" were. "We conducted an investigation into Yoo`s alleged dereliction of duty based on gathered intelligence and civil complaints. But it is not appropriate to disclose the outcomes," Lee added.

During the panel meeting, Uri Party lawmakers, including Jang Kyung-soo, stressed that all the truth about influence-peddling, as well as lobbies of politicians and government officials, regarding "Sea Story Gate," must be unearthed, and President Roh Moo-hyun must also apologize to the public for having inflicted pains on ordinary citizens with his failure in policies.

Still, Lee maintained that the truth must be uncovered first before an apology. "A thorough investigation must be carried out first to disclose those who should be held responsible and then an apology should follow next," Lee emphasized.

Meanwhile, Yang kept disrupting and intervening the remarks of Grand National Party (GNP) lawmaker Lee Koon-hyon during the question and answer session over suspicions of Cheong Wa Dae`s influence peddling.

"Your rude behavior is disgracing the parliament," Yoon once said to Lee asking for an apology.

When Yang was asked if he said Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the GNP, lacked historical consciousness during the revision of the private school law, Yang responded, "No, I did not say it but, instead, wrote it. It was based on my belief."

Yang`s aggressive responses were, however, criticized by a number of both governing and opposition lawmakers. Kim Han-gill, the chairman of the committee, even warned him just to answer the questions.