[EDITORIALS]Shirking their dutyDo we really need this type of hearing? Many people who watched a hearing at the National Assembly on Kim Byong-joon’s nomination for deputy prime minister for education may have asked that question.
A hearing is an opportunity for legislators to question a government nominee on behalf of the people, in order to find out whether the nominee is right for the job. Except for the prime minister’s post, nominees cannot be rejected by the Assembly, so public opinion formed by tough questioning and unsatisfactory answers are the only way an unqualified nominee’s name might be withdrawn.
There is no reason to hold a hearing if legislators are busy promoting a nominee. Some even said they discovered through the hearing that the nominee was flawless.
Opposition members quizzed Mr. Kim about his military service record and his child’s school admission, and the ruling party criticized that as political aggression. But a nominee’s educational background, career experience and military record are required to be sent to the Assembly before a hearing.
Mr. Kim’s military service record says that he is a middle school graduate and holds no higher degree. In fact, he was in a master’s degree program. That misstatement could have been the justification for his escape from a full military draft commitment. Although that was not the case here, it was only natural to question him about the matter. But Uri Party members said the issue was a mistake made by the Military Manpower Administration, not one by the nominee. If all they want to do is to defend the nominee, there is no reason for a hearing.
His children’s school transfer was rightly questioned as well, because that the matter is related to the nominee’s philosophy and even his ethics concerning education measures and policies.
But Uri Party members tried hard to make it appear that there were no suspicions, instead of working to clarify the facts. So suspicions have only grown greater. Uri Party members worked so hard to cover up that Mr. Kim even said that he felt awkward.
When Mr. Kim was strongly rumored to have been the choice for the post, there were strong objections to the decision even inside the Uri Party. But no sense of this came out at the hearing. Some Uri people said they could not oppose any presidential nominee.
If legislators abandon their beliefs and defend a nominee only because he was appointed by the president, that is a betrayal of the people. The legislators would have done better to stay home that day.