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Scared Candidates Shun Appointment Offer for PM

Posted September. 11, 2010 10:23,   


The presidential office early this month sent letters to five to six figures, including politicians, to expand the pool of candidates for prime minister.

The letters urged them to disclose information on them and their families, such as illegal registration of residential address and non-payment of national health insurance premiums, to prepare for full-fledged inspection of candidates. The responses, however, were below expectations with just one or two figures replying to the letters and the remaining people giving up.

Fears over personnel inspection are increasing among politicians and public officials in the wake of the withdrawal of Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho and two other Cabinet nominees from their respective posts Aug. 29. The number of items on the self-inspection list rose from 150 to 200.

Prospective candidates for Cabinet posts also feel burdened due to a stepped-up offensive from opposition parties at parliamentary confirmation hearings.

The presidential office is said to be greatly embarrassed at the lukewarm response to the self-inspection letters. The reply ratio this time was lower than when former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan was nominated. At the time, letters were sent to eight figures including Chung, and three replied.

The ruling camp believes that prospective candidates have gotten cold feet because the intensity of personnel background checks this time has grown more rigorous. With the signaling of a mock confirmation hearing at the presidential office in the last stage of the inspection, passing inspection has grown far more difficult.

A key figure of the ruling Grand National Party told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone Friday, “Many say the barriers of the inspection felt by candidates have been raised more than threefold.”

Certain candidates are known to fear their families undergoing criticism as well as themselves. Sources in the ruling camp said the two Cabinet minister-nominees suffered family trouble after being attacked by opposition parties over unfavorable family affairs at parliamentary confirmation hearings last month.

The families are reportedly still suffering from the aftereffects. Relatives of candidates are known to have asked if such a hassle is necessary for a government post, with one saying, “Let’s give up and live comfortably.”

The mentioning of Public Administration and Security Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu and Strategy and Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun as candidates for prime minister is probably related to this type of atmosphere. Incumbent Cabinet members who have passed parliamentary confirmation hearings are most likely to pass personnel inspection standards.