[EDITORIALS]Don't skimp on hearings

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[EDITORIALS]Don't skimp on hearings

The two-day confirmation hearing of Prime Minister-designate Kim Suk-soo opens Tuesday. Mr. Kim is the third nominee in two months, which explains why public interest in the hearing cooled off long ago. Political circles are also too preoccupied with the presidential election to pay much attention to the confirmation hearing. This could mean that the hearings to confirm our prime minister could turn out to be just a formality. More interesting, perhaps, are recent allegations that the government secretly funded North Korea and the ongoing squabble about Grand National Party leader Lee Hoi-chang's son and the draft.

This prime minister will not stay long in office, but he will still be our prime minister. As important as ending the 80 days of a government without an official prime minister is the task of finding the right one. A prime minister is vital for the stability of the last days of this administration, and the success of this experiment in legislative oversight of prime minister appointees is important for political stability.

The task of filling the prime minister's seat should not be a mere formality. It is important to leave a good precedent for the confirmations of future prime ministers. We should not wish for this confirmation hearing to be just done and gotten over with -- although this is an understandable sentiment considering the fact that we have had two nominees fail to be confirmed.

This hearing should also be equitable with the scrutiny given to the other two nominees. The fact that this is the third confirmation hearing in two months is no excuse for the hearings to be a pro-forma affair. Already, some ethical issues have been raised about Mr. Kim. Questions about his acquisition of wealth and his donation of property to his sons should be thoroughly aired. Mr. Kim must also be made to explain about his son's exemption from military service, where some of his statements have been contradictory. Just because we have come this far without a prime minister, we should not apply standards different than those in the two former hearings. Excessive demands and personal insults must of course be put aside, but the questioners should not show up with perfunctory questions.

We should remember that this confirmation hearing could become the watershed for the appointment of all senior officials.
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