Go to contents

Rough Cabinet Confirmation Hearings Expected

Posted August. 17, 2010 23:44,   


Tension is building between the ruling and opposition parties ahead of confirmation hearings to begin Friday following the Cabinet reshuffle early last week.

The ruling camp was originally optimistic over the hearings going smoothly since most of the nominees are politicians and former civil servants who have undergone confirmation several times. With the dispute intensifying, however, the ruling camp is seen as embarrassed.

A snag thus cannot be ruled out in President Lee Myung-bak’s plan for a fresh start for the second half of his term. He presented his plan for state administration in his Liberation Day Sunday after reshuffling the ruling party, the administration and the presidential office.

The parliamentary special committee on confirmation hearings in a general meeting Monday decided to summon as a witness former Taekwang Industry Chairman Park Yeon-cha, a supporter of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, for the confirmation hearing of Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho.

The move is meant to clarify suspicion over the allegation that Kim took bribes from Park. Prosecutors in January cleared Kim of the suspicion but the main opposition Democratic Party cried foul and is expected to bring up the allegation again at Kim’s confirming hearing.

On suspicion over surveillance of civilians by the ethical assistance section of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Democratic Party demanded that Vice Minister Park Young-joon testify. He was promoted to vice knowledge economy minister late last week.

But the bid failed in the face of opposition from the ruling Grand National Party.

The parliamentary steering committee at a general meeting adopted eight witnesses and referees after deciding to hold a confirmation hearing for Special Affairs Minister-designate Lee Jae-oh Aug. 23. Most of the witnesses are officials who might know if Lee Jae-oh wielded influence over Nam Sang-tae, the late president of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, who was reappointed CEO in February last year.

At the request of the Democratic Party, Chun Shin-il, the chairman of Sejung Namo Tours who is suspected of lobbying for Nam’s reelection, was also picked as a witness. Chun, dubbed “the president’s friend” and a figure of interest in a number of scandals, will take testify at the National Assembly for the first time.

The five opposition parties also raised suspicion over the ethics of nominees subject to confirmation hearings Monday, while stepping up its massive verbal attacks. They said National Tax Service Commissioner-designate Lee Hyun-dong is accused of plagiarism in writing his master’s thesis.

They also demanded the resignation of National Police Agency Commissioner-designate Cho Hyun-oh, who is under fire for comments made about Roh’s suicide and the families of the victims of the Cheonan sinking, and urged withdrawal of his nomination.

They also demanded his dismissal as Seoul police chief, his arrest and an investigation.

kimkihy@donga.com jin0619@donga.com