[EDITORIALS]Running for cover

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[EDITORIALS]Running for cover

It is not clear whether the nomination of Prime Minister designate Chang Dae-hwan will be approved. National Assembly members brought up several issues that could require Mr. Chang to take legal or moral responsibility at his confirmation hearings Monday.

The Grand National Party legislators in particular focused on how Mr. Chang had been able to get a 2.3 billion won ($1.9 million) bank loan. They also questioned some omissions in his declarations of property ownership and Mr. Chang's failure to pay a gift tax for real estate that he says his mother-in-law gave him. All in all, the lawmakers have claimed that Mr. Chang has broken more than ten existing laws, a heavy burden for a nominee to carry to the hearings. Mr. Chang has said that he is willing to pay if the real estate is still subject to the donation tax, but that still leaves concerns about his ethics.

The issues raised in Mr. Chang's confirmation hearing will cause some problems in government administration that will remain whether his nomination is approved or not. If he is confirmed, we would have a tired and embattled prime minister who might not have the power to lead the Kim Dae-jung administration in its last days. If he is rejected, it would mean more than just that we had gone without a prime minister for more than three months.

More of a cause for concern is the attitude of the Blue House; it has already started half-hinting, half-threatening that Mr. Chang's rejection would compromise Korea's standing in the outside world and would be a bad influence on the economy. These comments could have been made in the simple hope of seeing Mr. Chang confirmed, or they could have been meant as a warning to legislators and a denial of Blue House responsibility if he is rejected.

Appointing Mr. Chang, the Blue House said, "Many concerned authorities investigated Mr. Chang and found no reason not to offer him the nomination." What happened to change its own evaluation so quickly? Talking about bad influence on Korea's standing in the world if Mr. Chang were not confirmed is an effort of the Blue House to shift responsibility to others.

There is no way to make these problems go away now that the confirmation has been questioned. What will happen next remains to be seen in the second day of Mr. Chang's confirmation hearings.

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