[EDITORIALS]A repeat should be avoided

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[EDITORIALS]A repeat should be avoided

The National Assembly on Tuesday formed a special committee for a confirmation hearing for Chang Dae-hwan, whom President Kim Dae-jung has named prime minister. There are doubts about the effectiveness of the hearing, which is scheduled for next Monday and Tues-day, because the panel was set up 12 days after Mr. Chang's designation, although a series of questions had been raised about his finances and suspected real-estate speculation. With his explanations only intensifying suspicions, Mr. Chang has been keeping mum, spawning more rumors. As a media baron who succeeded his father-in-law as the chief executive of Maeil Business Newspaper, Mr. Chang may face more challenges than his female predecessor, Chang Sang, a theologian and university president whose appointment was voted down by the National Assembly.

A case in point is Mr. Chang's borrowing of 3.9 billion won ($3.3 million) from Woori Bank. Mr. Chang's explanation concerning the loan through another person only raised more suspicions and put him in a dilemma: He could be found to have violated the law or come under fire for a moral lapse. There are a number of questions that need to be answered, including Mr. Chang's large bank accounts and suspected ties with the Kim administration.

Mr. Chang should answer these questions candidly before his hearing. He must remember that his predecessor was rejected by parliament because, more than anything else, she kept changing her answers to questions and attempted to pass the buck to other people.

The hearing committee should intensify preparations for the inquiries to clear away concerns that it is not prepared due to the tight schedule. There is no reason to apply softer moral and ethical standards to this prime minister designate than to his predecessor.

Speculation is rife that the opposition Grand National Party, which controls a majority in the parliament, will go easy on Mr. Chang in a bid to avoid the political pressure that might follow a repeated veto of a prime minister. Some speculate that the Millennium Democratic Party may attempt to create a contentious environment. Giving the go-ahead on an unqualified nominee for prime minister or vetoing a qualified nominee for the sake of a veto both disrespect the people.

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