Hearings must be heardA rocky road lies ahead for President Lee Myung-bak’s administration as it tries to settle nominees for its cabinet.
The United Democratic Party yesterday refused to set a date for the hearing for Nam Joo-hong, the Unification Minister nominee, claiming that they need more time to interview him.
A hearing for Park Eun-kyung, the environmental minister-designate, is scheduled for today along with hearings for other minister-designates, but it is not clear whether the UDP will attend. It has repeatedly argued that neither candidate is qualified to lead a ministry and that it will boycott their hearings.
If the National Assembly fails to finish the hearing process within 20 days, President Lee can demand that the Assembly hold the hearings within 10 days.
If the period ends, the president can name the nominees as ministers.
As for the unification minister-nominee Nam, then President-elect Lee submitted a petition to hold a hearing for him to the National Assembly on Feb. 22. If procedures are delayed, President Lee can appoint the nominee at the end of next month. As the nominee for the minister of gender equality has already resigned and a new nominee has not been found, critics said the administration does not have the minimum number of cabinet members, which is 15. Under these circumstances, if hearings for other nominees are hindered, President Lee will have to delay holding his first cabinet meeting.
The UDP has to comply with the hearing procedures. It is normal for an opposition party to query ministerial nominees. However, the questions should be raised at a reasonable time such as at a hearing, according to legal procedures. Whether the issue is about the nominee’s views on North Korea, his or her children being permanent residents of the United States, or real estate investments of a nominee’s spouse, it should be discussed at a hearing. That’s what the hearings are for.
At a hearing, a nominee can address any allegations raised against him or her. When we listen to the responses, we can judge whether he or she is a suitable candidate to lead a ministry.
President Lee can make a judgment only if the procedures for the hearings are conducted in the appropriate manner.
“We will be able to verify what we need to verify through a hearing,” said Park Sang-cheon, co-chairman of the UDP.
The party should listen to an internal voice like Park’s.