[EDITORIALS]Hearing going out of boundsThe personnel hearings at the National Assembly are meant to evaluate the qualifications and criteria of designees to important government posts. The candidates are evaluated according to whether they are capable of conducting the duties of the post and whether they are aligned with the basic goal of the government agency. Their wealth, career and environment are evaluated and, this means that sometimes the hearings go deeper into the candidates’ private affairs than was initially intended, but this is always accepted.
However, the preparations that the government and opposition parties are making for the personnel hearing on the appointment of Justice Minister Kim Seung-kyu as the new head of the National Intelligence Service give the impression that they have swerved far from the original intention of the hearing. They are calling it a personnel hearing, but it looks a lot more like a investigative committee delving into past wrongdoings.
The Grand National Party wants to call Lee Jong-seok, vice head of the National Security Council, to the hearing, which will be aired live on television. The party intends to question Mr. Lee on allegations that the security council had abused its power. Also, the party wants to call journalist Kang Chol-hwan, who fled North Korea, to describe the human rights situation in the North. What these two matters have to do with Mr. Kim is anyone’s guess. The Grand National Party claims this is necessary to review the status, role and policy of the National Intelligence Service. If that is indeed the purpose, then it is completely inappropriate for the hearing.
The Uri Party is going even further. Some of the witnesses it wants to call to the hearing include victims of National Intelligence Service ploys that falsely accused people of being North Korean spies. This hearing is not a place to discuss past wrongdoings. The party’s intentions are clearly to promote the justification of abolishing the National Security Act at the hearing, and this simply is not right.
Both parties should stop turning the personnel hearing into another political battleground. What will the public think if they hear irrelevant questions being asked in the personnel hearing aired lived on television? We worry that people will call for abolishment of the hearings when they see the Assembly makes mokeries out of them.