[EDITORIALS]One good result of hearings

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[EDITORIALS]One good result of hearings

The two-day confirmation hearing to examine the third prime minister nominee, Kim Suk-soo, ended rather differently than the hearings for the first two nominees, Chang Sang and Chang Dae-hwan. The Assembly members were unwilling to dig too deeply into allegations about Mr. Kim, including possible draftdodging by his son and underreporting income from his law practice.

Representatives contended that Mr. Kim had no visible flaws, but many people still criticized the hearings as slipshod. Mr. Kim received praise for his ethics and ability, but did these hearings really serve a purpose of enhancing the ethics of the bureaucracy?

The proceedings at the confirmation hearing seemed to be driven by political calculations. The Grand National Party did not want to be responsible for a continued vacancy and perhaps a crisis in national governance by attacking a third nominee, and the Millennium Democrats knew the Blue House was watching.

The two parties were more concerned about their bigger political battles, and did not give much attention to the nomination. They are more interested in issues like the allegations of a $400 million payoff to North Korea and allegations that the GNP presidential nominee's son dodged the draft.

Mr. Kim did demonstrate his intention to remain neutral in the presidential election campaign. Asked when the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il should pay a reciprocal visit to Seoul and when the inter-Korean Gyeongui rail line should be opened, Mr. Kim said that the events should not take place during the campaign period. That answer was different from what the Blue House and the Millennium Democrats had in mind, so Mr. Kim showed some political courage.

The MDP argues that such inter-Korean events can take place at any time, while the Grand Nationals see an attempt to rush them for political advantage.

Mr. Kim emphasized that government policies must be based on public sentiment; that position should be the stance of the Kim Dae-jung administration in order to make this government's cabinet politically neutral during the election.

Mr. Kim's clear presentation of his beliefs is praiseworthy, and is a good counterbalance to the disappointment we felt about the way the hearings were conducted.
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