Target: Nominee’s church ties to Lee

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Target: Nominee’s church ties to Lee

The opposition parties yesterday grilled the environment minister-designate over her church ties to President Lee Myung-bak, accusing her of paying large church donations to lobby for the job, while the ruling party denounced the attack as discrimination.

Yoo Young-sook, a 55-year-old chemist, was named by Lee to head the Ministry of Environment earlier this month. At the confirmation hearing, the lawmakers also questioned her about allegations that her husband had received a suspiciously high wage from conglomerates. The opposition lawmakers also claimed that she lacks the expertise to lead the ministry.

Yoo donated a total of 96 million won ($87,700) to Somang Presbyterian Church, where Lee serves as an elder, since 2007. The lawmakers questioned whether Yoo had donated the large sum in order to land a top post in the Lee administration.

“Many ministers and vice ministers as well as CEOs of state-run companies secured jobs based on their Somang Church ties,” said Democratic Representative Hong Young-pyo. “I think Yoo is a classic example.”

Grand National Party Representative Shin Young-soo said there was suspicion that she had joined the church in pursuit of power.

Yoo said she had been a member of Somang Presbyterian Church since 1980 and has donated to the church using her income.

“It was a promise to myself to give tithes, no matter how much my income is,” she said. “When I lived in the United States, I did the same.”

Yoo said her donations were based on her religious conviction, not to win favors.

“I have never met President Lee at church. I just go there to attend services, so churchgoers probably didn’t even recognize me,” Yoo said.

Democratic Labor Party Representative Hong Hee-deok criticized Lee for appointing yet another Somang church member to a minister post.

“The people made clear through the April 27 by-election that they no longer want a cabinet filled with Korea University alums, Somang churchgoers and Gyeongsang natives,” said Hong.

The opposition parties also questioned Yoo about the salary of her husband, Nam Choong-hee. Nam received a total of 1.2 billion won from SK Engineering and Construction SK Telecom for two years and seven months of service as an adviser.

Hong said the payment was excessively high, and wondered if it was in return for Nam’s support of a massive development project of SK Engineering and Construction in Busan when he was deputy mayor of the city. Nam was deputy mayor of political affairs from 1998 to 2000.

Nam worked as an adviser of SK Engineering and Construction in 2008. He then worked as SK Telecom’s president in charge of urban development until May 2010 and has been serving as the firm’s adviser since then.

Yoo said Nam’s expertise in urban development was highly valued by the conglomerate and the salary was legitimate.

GNP Representative Kang Sung-chun said Yoo lacks the qualifications to head the Environment Ministry. Kang also said Yoo may not have the leadership skills to direct the complex administrative operations of the ministry.

Yoo, however, said she is confident about her qualifications, citing that her specialties in chemistry and biology will serve her well. She also said she would do her best to become a good leader.


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

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
유영숙 인사청문회…자질ㆍ도덕성 공방

국회 환경노동위는 24일 유영숙 환경부 장관 내정자에 대한 인사청문회를 열어 업무능력과 도덕성에 대한 검증을 벌였다.

유 내정자의 적격성 여부가 도마에 오른 가운데 야당 의원들은 ▲소망교회 헌금 논란 ▲배우자의 고액급여 논란 ▲위장 전입 의혹 등을 강도높게 추궁했다.

정책 측면에서는 4대강 사업, 경북 칠곡 미군기지 고엽제 매립사건에 질의가 집중됐다.

민주당 이미경 의원은 "유 후보자는 장관 발탁배경에 소망교회가 있다는 의혹에 대해 '소망교회는 2008년 5월부터 다니기 시작했다'며 부인했으나 기부금 내역을 살펴보니 2007년 7월부터 이 교회에 헌금을 했다"며 "그러면 2007년에는 다니지도 않는 교회에 헌금한 것이냐"고 지적했다.


민주당 홍영표 의원은 유 내정자의 남편의 공직선거 출마 노력을 언급, "정치인으로 활동해오던 남편이 갑자기 한나라당에 입당하고 SK로 가면서 13억원을 받았는데 이는 특혜성 급여"라고 공세를 폈다.

그러나 한나라당 신영수 의원은 "유 내정자가 독실한 신자로 소망교회에 십일조를 해온 것이 권력지향적으로는 보이지 않는다"고 했으며, 남편의 SK 급여에 대해서도 "전문성을 인정받은 것으로써 큰 문제는 없다"는 견해를 보였다.

같은 당 이범관 의원도 "본인의 종교생활을 문제삼을 것은 아니라고 본다"면서 도덕성에 큰 하자는 없다는 입장을 나타냈다.

다만 유 내정자의 환경 분야 전문성에 대해서는 여야 모두로부터 문제가 제기됐다.

한나라당 손범규 의원은 "학자이자 교수로 행정자문 역할을 많이 했다고는 하지만 자문만 했던 경력으로는 국민이 불안하다"며 "환경에 대한 전문적 식견도 다소 부족해 보인다"고 지적했다.

민주당 이미경 의원은 "환경부 행정은 현장에서의 문제해결 경험이 대단히 중요한데 유 내정자는 그런 경험이 없다"며 "환경정책 분야에 대한 연구성과, 정부 위원회나 민간단체 활동 경험도 없어 환경 분야 전문가라고 할수 없다"고 비판했다.

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