GNP says Chung ‘unfit’ to become audit board chair
“Through many public surveys over the weekend, it has been determined that Chung is unfit for the position as chairman of the BAI,” said Ahn Sang-soo, the GNP’s chairman, during a meeting with senior party members yesterday, according to party spokesman Ahn Hyoung-hwan.
Ahn said that the decision by the party’s Supreme Council to urge Chung to step down was unanimous.
“There should be fierce debate inside the party and out on whether placing a former presidential secretary in the BAI chairman position is right or wrong,” said Representative Suh Byung-soo during the meeting.
Representative Hong Joon-pyo said that “wrong reshuffles or the wrong government policies should be boldly righted through intense discussions.”
The conservative ruling party had stood by Chung when accusations were first made last week, but sensing public unease over Chung’s alleged ill-gotten gains, it decided to change its stance.
Aggravating the public is something that the GNP is trying to avoid, with presidential and parliamentary elections looming next year, and the party fears that supporting Chung could result in devastating losses for the GNP.
The nominee also has been under fire from the main opposition Democratic Party since last week for receiving high payouts from a legal firm he had worked at for seven months in 2007, just six days after he left his job at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office in November of that year.
The money, about 700 million won ($622,000), allegedly had been given to Chung in exchange for using his political influence to enable the firm, Barun Law, to take on high-profile lobbying and insurance lawsuits during his time there. Chung had worked for Lee’s presidential transition team in December 2007.
After the initial allegations were made last week, Chung said he had done “nothing illegal” and that 300 million won of the money had been paid in taxes.
Chung has been working as CEO of the Korean Government Legal Service since 2009 after serving as Lee’s senior secretary for civil affairs from June 2008.
The Democratic Party also has said that Chung lacks political impartiality because he is seen as one of Lee’s confidants and was involved in last year’s scandal over the illegal surveillance of private citizens by the Prime Minister’s Office, a charge that Chung denied yesterday.
“President Lee should apologize for trying to nominate one of his own men as chairman of the BAI, and those responsible at the Blue House for the reshuffle should be put to question,” said Jeon Hyun-heui, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party.
Former BAI chairman and incumbent leader of the conservative Liberty Forward Party Lee Hoi-chang also said during a radio interview yesterday that the nomination should be withdrawn.
“This is very problematic,” Lee Hoi-chang said. “Even in normal companies, what do you think would happen if the boss hires his right-hand man as the firm’s auditor and allows slack management just to go unnoticed? The company would fail.
“In the case of this nation, it’s in the law that the duties of the Board of Audit and Inspection are to be separated from the Blue House. How could Chung possibly keep the BAI independent from the president when he is one of [Lee’s] closest [allies]? This infringes on the will of the Constitution and our laws,” Lee Hoi-chang added.
A Blue House official told reporters last week, however, that the administration had found no illegal financial movements like tax fraud or other legal problems in Chung’s activities.
“To the eye of the ordinary citizen, the amounts that are being talked about here can seem huge. However, we believe the misunderstandings will be dissolved during the confirmation hearing once Chung gives his explanations,” the official said.
Chung himself said over the weekend that “everything will be fully understood during the hearing.”
Chung’s confirmation hearing is set for Jan. 19-20.
By Christine Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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집권 4년차 1월 10일 대통령의 인사권이 관련된 문제를 놓고 여당이 집단으로 ‘거사(擧事)’하고, 청와대가 이를 비판하는 이례적인 상황이 발생했다. 당·청 충돌의 후유증은 작지 않을 전망이다.
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