Learning from hearing fiasco

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Learning from hearing fiasco

The Lee Myung-bak government is in jeopardy yet again. A month has just passed since the government gained impetus in its driving force from the ruling party’s victory in the by-elections. It has been just weeks since President Lee said in his Aug. 15 Liberation Day address he’d create a fair society through policies tailored to help the ordinary populace. And it has been just days since the president and his party rival, Park Geun-hye, finally met and agreed to work closely together to enable power to be held by the conservative party in the next election.

But confirmation hearings for new cabinet appointees have generated one bombshell after another, and dark clouds blanket the Korean Peninsula with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il making his second visit to China in just three months - this time suddenly and mysteriously. The global economy is showing ominous signs of a double-dip recession while domestic ideological conflicts and polarization are deepening. It is unsettling to watch the ruling party - as well as popular opinion - sway in this difficult time.

What this country needs is new spirit and atmosphere. For too long it has been weighed down by the legacy of corruption. In every government, political hearings turn into a grotesque exhibition of corruption and misdeeds. The citizens are now sick and tired of hearing the same old story from high public-office seekers - lies, fraudulent house registration, tax evasion, draft dodging, cronyism, misuse of power, and deceitful publication of academic works.

Instead of policy direction and vision, we hear a chorus of apologies, excuses, and regrets. Confirmation hearings turn into confirmation of wrongdoings by the elite. The designates for prime minister and other ministries mouthed apologies repeatedly and blithely concluded their hearing by saying they had been good opportunists to look back on their lives. It is farcical seeing a state hearing turn into a review of people’s pasts.

The president and ruling party should learn from this fiasco. The president said he will toughen the pre-appointment screening process in the future.

But the present is more important. We cannot afford to put off today’s work to tomorrow. What needs to be studied should be done so immediately and what needs to be fixed now should be fixed quickly.

Punitive steps should be taken against the candidates for public office not for political purposes, but for the sake of re-establishing state discipline. The government must take measures against unqualified candidates and regain credibility. How can it pursue pro working-class policies if it turns a deaf ear to public opinion?
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