Improve the hearingsFive days have passed since the new administration took office, but a cabinet meeting of the Lee Myung-bak administration has yet to be held and the composition of the presidential office is unsettled.
This is because from early this month, when the presidential transition team was in operation, questions about the nominees for ministers and presidential secretaries have appeared: Suspicions about corruption and ethical flaws keep swirling. On top of this, hearings for nominees are not being carried out smoothly, adding a questionable air to the management of state affairs. The government’s personnel affairs evaluation system is full of problems and the hearings in the National Assembly do not cover important points in the evaluation process.
Most of the suspicions about nominees for Cabinet members and presidential secretaries concern their assets, their military duty or that of their sons and dual citizenship.
As more professors try to enter office now than in previous administrations, suspicions about plagiarism on their theses is a new concern. Their ability to carry out policy, their vision on state affairs and their knowledge are as important as their ethical values, but those standards have long fallen off the agenda for evaluation.
The hearings in the National Assembly are aimed at checking, on behalf of the public, nominees’ capacity and disposition and whether they are the right persons for the job. The hearings proved of little help, but now a ray of hope was found in hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, making people feel some relief.
Nominees were asked to express their opinion about their jobs. For instance, the nominee for the minister of strategic planning and finance was asked about his responsibility during the financial crisis of the late 1990s when he was deputy minister of finance and economy.
The nominee for minister of human resources, science and technology was asked about university entrance exams that focus on Korean language, English and math. The nominee for defense minister was asked about timing for the handover of wartime control. The nominee for minister of agriculture, fisheries and food was asked about ratification of a free trade agreement with Washington and beef imports.
Checking the political philosophy and professional knowledge of nominees is a task to be done at hearings in the National Assembly.
We hope the hearings will improve.