An undemocratic suggestion

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An undemocratic suggestion

Moon Jae-in, head of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, proposed that a public poll should decide on the approval of prime minister nominee Lee Wan-koo. The ruling and opposition parties agreed to put off a legislative vote on the former Saenuri Party floor leader to Monday. Lee’s confirmation hearing was shaken by a number of allegations about his past and controversial comments he made off the record to reporters. So the NPAD, which opposes President Park Geun-hye’s pick for prime minister, suddenly came up with the bizarre idea of putting the fate of Lee in the hands of the masses.

Such a suggestion is ridiculous. The legislature has the constitutional and legitimate authority to confirm a senior public official. Since 2000, prime minister candidates have been subject to legislative confirmation hearings, and none had been decided by a poll. Most of those that came under fire for their unethical, illegal and questionable behavior - or that of their family members - were either rejected in a vote or withdrew from candidacy.

It is an irresponsible and shameful act as a legislator to relay the legislative responsibility of endorsing a prime minister candidate to the public. What is the use of the National Assembly if it cannot make a decision on whether a candidate is suitable to lead the country’s government?

Moon said a poll is better than the ruling party unilaterally approving the candidate through a majority vote. But the opposition party must do its duty and cast a ballot disapproving of the candidate. The NPAD fears Lee could win the necessary vote and be endorsed if 158 Saenuri Party lawmakers all vote in favor of their peer.

But just because it cannot win through votes doesn’t mean the party can resort to cowardly and irregular practices. There are many ways in which the opposition can demonstrate its stance. They can boycott the vote to show their disapproval or take to the podium to explain to the people why Lee is unfit to become prime minister.

The public also disapproves of the choice for prime minister. In a recent poll, the negative view of Lee reached 41 percent, overwhelming the positive view of 29 percent. Moon may have come up with the idea for the poll based on Lee’s bad publicity. He also may be worried about losing confidence from Chungcheong, where Lee has been elected numerous times and has served as a governor, if his party disapproves or boycotts the vote. But the idea is against democratic principles. We are appalled that it came from the main opposition party leader.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 14, Page 26

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