Obey the law and voteUnless an extraordinary situation occurs today, the ruling Saenuri Party likely will press ahead with voting on a confirmation motion for prime ministerial nominee Lee Wan-koo in the afternoon. National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa vowed to put the motion to a vote over the objections of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD). The vote must pave the way for establishing the rule of law in the legislature for candidates for high-profile government posts.
Our Constitution stipulates that lawmakers vote on prime ministerial nominees - unless they withdraw voluntarily. But the opposition went too far. It didn’t agree to a vote even after his confirmation hearings and instead came up with the bizarre idea of deciding the nominee’s fate through a public opinion poll, a brazen disrespect of the Constitution.
It is not the first time that the constitutional principle was shaken by the opposition. At the time of the botched confirmation hearing of prime ministerial nominee Moon Chang-keuk, the NPAD rejected confirmation hearings citing remarks by Moon at a church gathering last year. As it turned out, President Park Geun-hye’s indecision helped pressure him to withdraw. But the way the opposition acts is contradictory. Despite suspicions of misconduct during confirmation hearings for Chang Sang and Chang Dae-whan for prime minister during the Kim Dae-jung administration, the opposition pushed ahead with voting at the Assembly. They were not confirmed.
Lee appears to have many problems as a nominee for prime minister, as seen in his unfathomable hubris to pressure the media and ambiguous answers. As a result, many oppose his appointment. Yet people wonder if his moral flaws really outweigh his ability to perform the role of prime minister. Opinion polls are nothing more than a reference.
The law demands lawmakers cast secret ballots on confirmation motions according to their conscience. Any attempt to damage the spirit of the law is against the law. The ruling or opposition parties must not influence each lawmaker’s vote. Neither the Saenuri leadership’s support for approval nor the NPAD trying to shirking its obligation to vote makes sense. Lawmakers must be free to cast their votes based on their conscience.
It’s all up to the opposition. Moon Jae-in paid his respects at the graves of former Presidents Syngman Rhee and Park Chung Hee after his election as NPAD chairman. Though belated, he made the right decision. Likewise, he must return to his principles this time, too.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 16, Page 30