Last of grillings on nominations

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Last of grillings on nominations

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Kwon Do-yup / Lee Chae-pil

The National Assembly yesterday held two confirmation hearings to verify the qualifications of President Lee Myung-bak’s nominees for labor minister and construction minister.

In the post by-election shake up earlier this month, the president replaced five ministers in his cabinet. Among the decisions was to promote Vice Minister Lee Chae-pil to become the minister of employment and labor. Vice Minister Kwon Do-yup was also promoted to become the minister of land, transport and maritime affairs.

Lee and Kwon yesterday faced the grilling of the lawmakers in two separate hearings. With the hearings, the National Assembly is wrapping up the week of verification sessions for the five minister-designates. The legislature’s role in confirming the nomination is nonbinding but each hearing will be concluded with a report to state the lawmakers’ stance.

While the opposition lawmakers suspected Lee for having received 10 million won ($9,100) in bribes in 2003 from a ministry staff member seeking promotion, Lee flatly denied the accusation.

“The staff member left an envelope at my home and said it was a work-related document, while I was not there,” Lee said. “I felt very strange about it and gave it back the next day at the office, in front of other officials.”

Lee added that some of the ministry workers who had witnessed him returning it are still working at the ministry. The Grand National Party said yesterday that his explanation was clear enough for Lee to be promoted. At the confirmation hearing, Lee also addressed the recent government intervention to forcibly end the workers’ strike at the auto component maker Yoosung Enterprise.

“I see some justifications for the purpose and target of the strike but it is unacceptable for the labor union to illegally occupy the facilities,” he said.

In another confirmation hearing, Kwon faced harsher grilling of the lawmakers over his ethics qualifications.

Kwon has been accused of receiving special treatment by working at the law firm Kim & Chang after he retired from the Land Ministry in August last year. From December to April of this year, Kwon worked as the law firm’s adviser by receiving 25 million won in monthly salary.

“Unless you reveal details of what you have done for Kim & Chang, there is a possibility of misunderstanding,” DP Representative Baek Jae-hyun said. “Will you return to Kim & Chang after you leave the minister post?”

Kwon replied that he worked to advise lawyers due to his expertise in urban and housing policies based on his 30-year career experience. “Working as the minister this time will be my last opportunity to serve the nation and the community.”

Representative Rhee In-je, an independent lawmaker, also criticized Kwon for working at the law firm. “Kim & Chang probably is taking cases that have many conflicts of interest with government policies,” Rhee said. “If you kept your dream to become a minister, you should have not worked there.” While defending that he had done it to feed his family, Kwon said, “Now I think back, I should have been more careful.”

He also admitted to having signed a real estate contract that stated a lower price for a house he purchased in 2005. Such a practice of the so-called “down contract” is often used to pay less tax on the real estate property transaction. “Although I had delegated the purchase to my legal and real estate agents, I was a public servant in charge of real estate properties,” Kwon said. “I apologize for the inappropriate act.”


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

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
이채필 “인사청탁 돈봉투 소설 같은 얘기”
고용부 장관 후보 인사청문회

이채필 고용노동부 장관 후보자는 26일 2003년 총무과장으로 재직할 당시 별정직 6급 김모씨로부터 인사청탁용 ‘돈봉투’를 받았다는 의혹에 대해 “소설과 같은 얘기”라고 일축했다. 김씨는 이 후보자가 장관에 지명된 이후 “이 후보자에게 1000만원이 든 돈봉투를 줬으며, 이 후보자는 이를 석 달이 지난 뒤에야 나에게 돌려줬다”고 주장해왔다.

 이에 이 후보자는 “정말 억울한 모함”이라며 “(돈봉투를 받은) 다음날 (민원실에서) 호통을 치면서 돌려줬다”고 말했다.

 민주당 홍영표 의원은 “(당시 민원실에 있었지만)돌려주는 걸 못 봤다는 직원도 있다”고 캐묻자 이 후보자는 “확실히 목격한 직원들이 아직도 근무 중”이라고 답했다.

 한나라당 강성천 의원은 “(일 처리가 깐깐하다고 해서) 고용노동부의 ‘꼬장’이라고 불린다는데 (실제론) 자기 관리를 철저히 하지 않은 것 아닌가”라고 따졌다. 이 후보자가 “자기관리를 엉망으로 하지 않았다”고 맞서자 같은 당 손범규 의원은 “100% 잘하진 못한 것 아니냐”고 목소리를 높였다.

 이 후보자는 유성기업 파업에 대한 공권력 투입을 두고선 “파업의 주체와 목적의 정당성은 인정되나 (노조가) 노무 제공 거부에 그치지 않고 시설 점거를 해서 (쟁의행위의) 수단과 방법에 있어 정당성을 인정받지 못했다”며 “불법 파업이었다”고 말했다.

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