Solon says Blue House wanted closed hearing

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Solon says Blue House wanted closed hearing

Park Jie-won, acting head and floor leader of the Democratic Party, said yesterday that the Blue House has come up with a new approach to confirmation hearings for its next prime minister nominee: to hold one public hearing dedicated to the candidate’s professional qualifications, and a separate session - behind closed doors - to ask about ethics and possible skeletons in his closet.

Park said the presidential office made the proposal on Monday and he rejected it.

“They said they will send a thoroughly verified candidate to the National Assembly,” Park told his party’s lawmakers at a meeting yesterday. “Then they proposed to split the confirmation hearing into two sessions and verify the ethics qualifications in a closed-door session.”

Blue House spokeswoman Kim Hee-sun denied Park’s assertion. “I have checked with senior presidential secretaries, and none of them said they had made such a proposal,” said Kim. “And such a possibility was not even discussed by working-level staff.” Other Blue House officials contacted by the JoongAng Daily also denied the proposal.

But President Lee Myung-bak is clearly scrambling to avoid a repeat of last month’s confirmation hearings debacle in which his nominees for prime minister, culture minister and knowledge economy minister stepped down after hearings revealed illegalities or irregularities in their personal backgrounds. Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho was accused by opposition lawmakers of taking a multimillion-dollar bribe from a businessman in 2006.

Last week, the Blue House announced a plan to boost the integrity of senior-ranking government officials and overhaul the personnel appointment system. Part of the plan was to hold mock confirmation hearings for potential candidates to get them ready for the real grillings at the National Assembly.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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