[EDITORIALS]Wishy-washy standardsThe National Assembly is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether or not to approve the nomination of Chang Dae-whan as prime minister even though it has not yet finished its scrutiny. Neither legislators nor the people are in a pleasant mood as they wait for the outcome of the vote. There are several reasons.
First, the president does not seem to have done much in the way of checking before he chose his nominees for prime minister. The responsibilty for the rejection of Chang Sang by the National Assembly and for making the second nominee's fate unclear is at the president's feet. President Kim Dae-jung used his nominations for prime minister as a card to change the political situation as if he were hosting a surprise party.
In addition we wonder how many people with the capacity to run the government could meet moral standards as high as those applied to Mr. Chang and his predecessor Chang Sang at the confirmation hearings. The strike zone is too small. It is difficult to understand why there is a big discrepancy between what is allowed for ordinary people and what is permissible for a nominee for prime minister.
Simple arithmetic tells us that Mr. Chang has more problems than Ms. Chang did. But Ms. Chang was the president of Ehwa Womans University while Mr. Chang was the CEO of a business newspaper with more money to manage. We have to think about whether or not to apply the same standards to both, simply based on the amount of money that was questioned by legislators, without giving considerations to individual differences.
The two nominees are both accomplished in their own fields. They belong to the upper strata of our society. But their moral lapses are prominent in ordinary citizens' eyes. They don't know where the money came from or went, although the amount of money is too big to be ignored by ordinary people. They tried to excuse themselves by saying that they did not know about laws and taxes. The people feel betrayed because their moral responsibility is too weak to justify their social standing.
Legislators were not well prepared. At Mr. Chang's hearings, more than 10 possible illegalities were raised, but we know no more now than we did when the hearings began.
We have already asked legislators to establish a model for confirmation hearings. We hope the National Assembly will make hearings more fruitful by making a wise decision when they vote.