Keep to principles

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Keep to principles

Confirmation hearings began today at the National Assembly to scrutinize public office nominees from the Aug. 8 cabinet reshuffle. However, we have bad memories of previous hearings as aspirants for high-ranking government posts almost always have had blights in their careers either in legal or ethical respects. In the screening process, their skeletons have explicitly been revealed as in the X-rays of patients.

But after all the fuss, the fate of the nominees always hinges on a majority vote. If a candidate doesn’t belong to the party holding the majority in the National Assembly, he can be denied confirmation even though he has a background no less flawed than nominees who get confirmed. And opposition parties always take advantage of the confirmation process for the purpose of flinging whatever dirt they can find on nominees as a chance to blemish the ruling party.

Some politicians even attempt to take personal advantage of the confirmation process by slandering nominees. As a result, many candidates end up irrecoverably scarred. Consequently, the distrust and disappointment of the average citizens, particularly working-class people, usually deepens whenever confirmation hearings are held. This confirmation hearing will be no exception.

Confirmation hearings are basically aimed to keep in check the president’s power over personnel appointments through the legislative branch’s power to screen public office seekers’ qualifications in terms of competence, morality and policy. If we want to restore the original goal of confirmation hearings, a joint effort by the president, nominees and lawmakers is strongly needed. First of all, the Presidential Office should not nominate anybody with more flaws than necessary, and should perform a more thorough preliminary screening.

If nominees have problems, they should not accept a job offer from the government. And if their flaws go beyond what is acceptable, they should step down even before entering the hearings. Once stepping into the room, they should also answer legislators’ questions as frankly as possible and wait for their judgment so as to give the people an impression that they can make up for past mistakes down the road.

Also, the legislators should not raise groundless suspicions just to seek political advantage. Opposition parties in particular should be well aware of the possibility that they can be the ruling party at any time in the future. Only when they have the wisdom to find a balance between criticism and accommodation can the hearing get back on track, along with the government as well. It’s finally time to normalize this pivotal part of our democracy.
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