Hearings must be held

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Hearings must be held

The National Assembly has postponed any schedule for confirmation hearings for prime minister-designate Moon Chang-keuk. The Blue House said it will put a formal motion for them on hold until after President Park Geun-hye returns from her visits to three Central Asian countries including Uzbekistan. The presidential office most likely made the decision in consideration of the controversy in media and political circles about some of Moon’s past remarks on history and demands for him to walk away from the nomination.

It all began with KBS attacking Moon’s views on Japan’s colonial rule of Korea in edited footage of a speech he gave at a church he attends. A remark that Korea does not need to receive an apology from Japan for its forced recruitment of sex slaves, in particular, fueled the criticism. An opposition party lawmaker even branded him an “ultra-conservative” following in the footsteps of the pro-Japanese faction in the late Joseon Dynasty. Other issues bedeviling the nomination — like his attending graduate school while in military service or recommending himself for a professor’s position when he served as head of a journalism foundation — also played a part.

However, many people criticize KBS’s editing of the clip of Moon’s speech, while others actually support his historical view. Moon himself has explained that he meant to say the comfort women issue calls for a genuine apology from Japan.

Most of the controversies are related to Moon’s personal ideas and historical views, not any form of corruption, as seen in other nominations. A human’s philosophy can hardly be defined by others. Although the ideas of nominees for high-profile positions like prime minister need to be examined as a way of scrutinizing their morality and qualifications for the positions, that must be done within the boundary of the law — in other words, through confirmation hearings at the legislature because a preliminary examination of someone’s record cannot substitute for formal confirmation hearings. Robbing him of such a legitimate procedure constitutes a dereliction of duty by lawmakers.

Opposition lawmakers contend it’s over because Moon has already failed the “people’s examination.” As long as a confirmation hearing system exists, lawmakers must invite Moon to the Assembly to say what he really thinks. They must remind themselves of the Kim Dae-jung administration in which two prime minister nominees went through the confirmation process before they failed to pass. The Blue House has postponed the submission of a request for confirmation hearings after nominating Moon. That shows a lack a conviction.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 19, Page 30

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