[EDITORIALS]Rubber-stamp hearingsThe Uri Party announced that it would hold confirmation hearings for the five cabinet nominees and the nominee for the chief of the National Police Agency before the Lunar New Year holiday. The government asked the National Assembly to conduct the hearings last Wednesday; and the Uri Party is saying that it will complete the hearings by Thursday next week. However, there is no chance that the Grand National Party will return to the Assembly by then, and the Democratic Party has stated that it will not participate unless the Grand National Party does, too. If the confirmation hearings are carried out by force, only the Uri Party and Democratic Labor Party will be in attendance.
This is the first time such hearings are being held for ministerial nominations and they will be meaningless if only half of the representatives attend. In past confirmation hearings, governing party lawmakers consistently “sheltered” nominees under their wing, but if the hearings are only going to be attended by the ruling party, it is easy to imagine that this is exactly what will happen. Moreover, the hearings will certainly be unsatisfactory, since the Uri Party plans to get them over within just one day. After doing so, will they report to the government that they found “no problems” with appointing the nominees?
Incidentally, Lee Jae-oh, the new floor leader of the Grand National Party, has said his party will not attend the confirmation hearings until negotiations on revising new private education laws begin. If the ruling party decides to force the hearings, it will only trigger further conflict with the Grand National Party outside of parliament. In order to thaw out the political impasse, the Uri Party must wait a little longer until the Grand National Party returns.
Waiting for the participation of the opposition party will not pose any legal problem. The National Assembly has until Feb. 10 to send its results to the Blue House.
The Uri Party will select a new floor leader on Tuesday; the new leader will have to find an outlet for the two major parties to meet. The Grand National Party should not think lightly of the confirmation hearings, either. In the case of Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok, the Grand Nationals should inquire whether Mr. Lee’s view on North Korea is proper for his position, and whether the appointment of Rhyu Si-min to the position of minister of health is appropriate, especially since the latter was shunned even by the governing party’s members. For the opposition party to ignore these vital issues and stay outside the Assembly would mean it has abdicated its role.