[EDITORIALS]Serious issues bedevil Chang

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[EDITORIALS]Serious issues bedevil Chang

The two-day confirmation hearing on the prime minister-designate, Chang Dae-whan, begins Monday. Approval once seemed sure, since the National Assembly was not expected to turn down the president's choice for prime minster twice in a row. But things are not predictable any more. Numerous issues have sprouted that make him legally and ethically questionable. The issues are more serious than fears of political chaos or a vacuum of national governance, should the National Assembly disapprove a second prime minister-designate.

As National Assembly members pointed out, the suspicions about Mr. Chang are more serious than those raised over the previous prime minister-designate, Chang Sang. His explanations are unsatisfactory regarding a huge bank loan, the falsification of the residence registration of his two children to get them into schools in the Gangnam district and the handling of real estate transactions. It is said that some are agonizing over what to do if he turns out to have violated laws in the bank loan.

Fierce partisan confrontation is driving Mr. Chang into a more serious quandary. The Grand National Party, with a majority at the National Assembly, is considering linking the approval vote with the investigation into alleged draft dodging by the son of its presidential candidate, Lee Hoi-chang. The GNP says the investigation was engineered by the ruling camp behind the scenes. The party may have to be tough on Mr. Chang to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Mr. Chang and Mr. Lee's younger brother jointly own a cottage, and officials of the Maeil Business Newspaper reportedly visited the GNP headquarters. Women's groups are asking the National Assembly to apply to Mr. Chang standards as strict as those applied to Ms. Chang; otherwise, they say, she will appear to have been discriminated against for her sex.

"I will admit my wrongdoing and apologize," Mr. Chang said. "I will not avoid my responsibility." He has acknowledged that falsifying the residence information was wrong. From this, we infer a desire to be sincere, unlike his predecessor. We hope for a confirmation hearing not of emotions but facts. The GNP should not vent its anger over the draft-dodging investigation. Trivial things should not justify character assassination. The National Assembly must set up a model hearing this time.
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