A motley crew

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A motley crew

The incoming Park Geun-hye administration now has full lineup of its senior posts. Despite the time spent on deliberation, the candidates still raise questions on credentials and ethical standards. Such questions should not be brushed aside or used as a knee-jerk attack by the opposition. Members of a new government must have the confidence of the public to push ahead with its new agenda, and such confidence comes from a scrupulous screening by the legislature.

From the look of the lineup, however, we have to question whether there was any preliminary screening work done. The usual red flags for trouble in confirmation hearings are all there: Using fake addresses to get kids into better schools, speculation in real estate and draft dodging. All of these could have been spotted in advance through simple background checks.

Some candidates are suspected of having pocketed a tremendous amount of money after resigning from earlier government jobs. They claim they were legitimate rewards, but few can swallow how their wealth suddenly ballooned after they left official jobs. Some of the nominees for ministers have spouses with records of questionable activities in private tutoring for their children and real estate profits.

Favoritism for alumni from one particular school - Sungkyunkwan University - also has been criticized. It does not bode well for the government if alumni from a certain school dominate senior government posts. It only underscores the president-elect’s lack of judgment.

Her choice of Huh Tae-yeol, a former three-term lawmaker of the ruling party, as chief of staff rings alarm bells after his dubious career. As head of the National Assembly’s political affairs committee in February of last year, he pushed a special law to bail out savings banks that ran into trouble under corrupt managers. The bill, motivated to serve certain constituencies rather than consumers as a whole, failed to pass amid heavy criticism. Huh’s track record raises serious doubt about his ability to maintain fairness and objectivity as chief of staff.

The onus in appointment mishaps rests with Park, who has been repeatedly criticized for narrowness and secrecy in decision-making. She claims to be a “well-prepared” president. The line-up makes us wonder if she did any homework at all. Now it’s up to her candidates to clear all suspicions raised at their confirmation hearings at the National Assembly. Park says her government will immediately carry out her campaign promises. There is still time to make amends.
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