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Super week for confirmation hearings

Posted May. 02, 2022 08:00,   

Updated May. 02, 2022 08:00


This week must be busy with confirmation hearings to be held at the National Assembly on the first lineup of cabinet members in President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s upcoming administration including Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo and 18 minister candidates. Han stands at a confirmation hearing on Monday to Tuesday after the one scheduled earlier was boycotted by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea due to poorly prepared documents. A series of confirmation hearings will continue through next week starting with five minister nominees on Monday. The super week of confirmation hearings has just begun.

Both the ruling and opposition parties stand to compete fiercely to gain the upper hand during confirmation hearings. Indeed, the nation awaits the June 1 local elections following the People Power Party’s presidential election triumph for change of government. Added to this, there is ongoing political controversy over the legislative push to remove the prosecution’s investigative authority. The Democratic Party showed its determination to take strong offence, critically saying, “All 19 nominees are not qualified obviously. It is a complete disaster fueled by unfair and non-sensical practices based on the poor verification system of nominees.” Specifying some particular nominees, it warns that they will be rejected. In response, the People Power Party is playing defense, criticizing the other side for making ill-intentioned comments to interfere with the next administration.

Most of the nominees on the list are embroiled in any kind of controversy, whether it be minor or critical, over their morality. It is hard to insist that there is any nominee who is completely moral. Some candidates do not satisfy the level of fairness and common sense on which President-elect Yoon puts special emphasis, according to critics. This only makes it more important for both sides to focus on fact finding than to fire away at each other during confirmation hearings, during which they should unravel truths and facts about controversial issues related to each nominee and check if they are qualified to become high-ranking government officials.

Confirmation hearings are supposed to help resolve controversies over each candidate. As for Prime Minister nominee Han’s receipt of high consulting fees at a large law firm due to the practice of giving partial preference to ex-officials, the National Assembly should find out what he really got paid for and if the fees were properly estimated given any service provided. Facts need to be established amid allegations against Chung Ho-young, nominee for health and welfare minister, pulling some strings behind his two children’s transfer to Kyungpook National University Medical School, and Kim In-chul, nominee for deputy prime minister and education minister, getting involved in Fulbright scholarships granted to the nominee, his wife and his two children. Also, the upcoming confirmation hearings need to look into ongoing controversies over a nominee’s spouse receiving pays unfairly from a family-owned business and another nominee’s son working as an executive at an online gambling business.

Confirmation hearings are not supposed to aim to humiliate nominees by raising groundless suspicions or making a big deal out of minor issues with the mere goal of turning them down. Likewise, it is not the right way to go to defend nominees unconditionally and blindly without trying to figure out the rights and wrongs. Also, it is important to verify if nominees are capable of serving in public office. The purpose of the forthcoming confirmations should be to screen out anyone who is less capable of working in public office than required and has poor moral qualifications.