Confirmation report left up to ParkPresident Park Geun-hye appears determined to push ahead today with the appointments of her nominees for minister of health and welfare and prosecutor-general, despite strong objections from the opposition Democratic Party.
That likelihood will inevitably increase the already escalated tensions between the ruling and opposition parties.
Moon Hyung-pyo, a senior researcher at the Korea Development Institute, is the nominee for health and welfare minister, and Kim Jin-tae, the second nominee, is a former deputy prosecutor-general. Their confirmation hearings took place last week.
According to the Blue House yesterday, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration obtained approval from President Park on Tuesday to formally request the National Assembly send her a report on the progress of the confirmation hearing for Moon and Kim.
Under the Personnel Hearing Act, the National Assembly should complete an examination or a personnel hearing within 20 days from when a bill for the approval of an appointment is presented by the president.
If the Assembly fails to forward a report on the proceedings of the confirmation hearing, the president may request, via the Security Ministry, that the report be sent to her.
The National Assembly then has as many as 10 days from the expiration of the original 20-day period to hand over the report to the president. The president, however, can potentially request that the report be sent as soon as possible. Park then gains legal grounds to appoint the two candidates herself regardless of the Assembly’s opinion.
According to the Security Ministry, because lawmakers in the Assembly could not reach an agreement on the confirmation report, Park requested it be sent to her by yesterday, giving the National Assembly just one day within that 10-day time frame.
That means, at the earliest, she could appoint Moon and Kim today.
“It is possible [for the president] to appoint the two candidates [today], but nothing has been confirmed yet,” said Lee Jung-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public affairs, in a briefing yesterday.
The opposition party fiercely protested Park’s move.
“If [the president] pushes ahead with Moon’s appointment, she will bring on yet another personnel-related disaster. It will show that she has one mode of operation when it comes to state affairs, which is self-righteous and has damaged communication,” said Democratic floor leader Jun Byung-hun.
Describing her attitude as “self-willed and completely indifferent,” DP spokesman Park Yong-jin said yesterday, “It means [the president] considers the National Assembly confirmation hearing process a mere formality and sees the opposition’s criticism as just nitpicking.”
Moon’s nomination came under intense scrutiny after he was accused of using a corporate credit card for his private affairs. Democrats claimed he used the card when he took personal leave, as well as to indulge his wife and son on their birthdays.
Opponents of Kim’s appointment as prosecutor-general often cite his hometown in South Gyeongsang Province as a problem and have accused the president of a geographical political preference.
Park was born in Daegu and elected four times in Dalseong County inside the metropolitan city of South Gyeongsang.
The situation makes the appointment of Hwang Chan-hyon, chief of the Seoul Central District Court who was nominated last month to head the Board of Audit and Inspection tricky because a National Assembly vote to confirm the appointment is mandatory - unlike with the two other candidates.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]