Public servants, not saints

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Public servants, not saints

The National Assembly will meet today in an extraordinary session. It is rare for the legislature to hold a session on the eve of the legislative elections. The extraordinary session is to vote on the confirmation of the prime minister-nominee. The governing and opposition parties initially planned to vote on the appointment on Tuesday, but the voting was delayed because of the hard-line stance by lawmakers of the United Democratic Party.
The hardliners said Han Seung-soo is unfit for the post. They also said a prime minister has the right to confirm the appointments of the cabinet under the Constitution, and the prime minister-designate is responsible for the shortcomings of the minister candidates.
No matter what the logic is, the United Democratic Party must allow its lawmakers to freely vote on the confirmation of the prime minister-designate. In other words, it should be a conscience vote. Within the party, some argued that the party should adopt the objection as its official party line, but that is wrong.
Each lawmaker will have a different judgment on whether a candidate is fit for the prime minister’s job or not. In advanced nations such as the United States, almost all issues are decided by a conscience vote. This means that the personal conscience and judgment of each lawmaker is highly respected.
Korea must practice more conscience voting. There will be times that adopting an official party line is unavoidable, but it is natural to allow a conscience vote to confirm the prime minister. If Han is not approved through a conscience vote, the Grand National Party will have to accept the decision.
Among the 15 candidates for President Lee’s cabinet, three have already stepped down. The United Democratic Party, however, is still pressuring the president and the Grand National Party with some minister-designate choices. They said the National Assembly hearings revealed problems about their accumulation of wealth and academic practices.
Korea has gone through an era of development, and there have been improper practices in the past. To select a public servant, we need to compromise. We are not selecting a man of the cloth, but a public servant. If a candidate’s capability is acceptable by common sense, we should believe in their ability and allow them to do their job.
We should give governing power to the new president. Ousting three out of 15 is more than enough. It is time for the government to get to work.

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