NPAD chairman slams president’s PM nomination

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NPAD chairman slams president’s PM nomination

Main opposition leader Moon Jae-in on Friday condemned President Park Geun-hye’s prime ministerial nomination as a “clear declaration of war” that will divide the public.

Park on Thursday tapped Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn to serve as her new prime minister, a position that has been vacant for nearly a month since Lee Wan-koo stepped down over his involvement in a massive payoff scandal.

“It can be inferred that President Park has practically given up on uniting people,” Chairman Moon said at the Supreme Council meeting with senior leaders from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD).

“It’s helped us realize her lack of communication and self-righteousness,” he added.

Moon also strongly criticized Hwang, describing him as a “yes-man” who blindly listens to the president, and questioned his suitability to serve as prime minister.

“A prime minister must be able to deliver the voices of the people to the president without adding or omitting information and must not hesitate to provide different opinions,” he said. “While serving as the justice minister, Hwang has only listened to the president’s voice and has intimidated people and the opposition by aggravating ideological conflicts.”

“Given that [the NPAD] has twice suggested that he retire, it doesn’t make sense that [Park] nominated Hwang, who’s ineligible even to be a minister, much less a prime ministerial nominee,” Moon continued. “[President Park] is neglecting the public if she believes the nomination is warranted in pushing the deal.”

But despite the NPAD chairman’s rhetoric on Friday, some speculated that Hwang’s appointment may work in the opposition’s favor, working as a smoke screen for the lingering internal conflicts that have come to the surface since the party’s crushing defeats in the April 29 by-elections.

“This situation appears able to cover up many of the opposition’s problems,” NPAD Rep. Sul Hoon said in a radio interview on Friday. “If we work together [against the nomination], it may help us to resolve some of our disputes and regain a sense of comradeship.”

With such strong opposition from the main opposition, Hwang is expected to have a trying confirmation hearing.

The president has an unfortunate history of botched attempts at naming a prime minister. Since she took office in 2013, she has nominated six officials, though only two have gone so far as to actually serve as prime minister.

Park’s first nominee, Kim Yong-joon, bowed out just five days after he was nominated, and Chung Hong-won, who was appointed as her first prime minister in February 2013, stepped down after the Sewol ferry disaster in April 2014. Her two subsequent nominees both dropped out before the confirmation process, forcing Chung to temporarily stay on.

He ended up vacating his post 296 days after offering to resign. Park named Lee Wan-koo as her administration’s second prime minister on Feb. 17.

His resignation came just two months into his term, however, after he was accused in April of receiving illegal political funds.

Hwang, who is still serving as justice minister, cleared his schedule on Friday and remained at his office to prepare for the upcoming hearing, which is anticipated to be held before the president flies to Washington in mid-June to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

“I will do my best,” he said Friday, before entering his office.

An official from the Justice Ministry on Friday said that the date of Hwang’s resignation ceremony had not yet been determined.

“He will be still serving as the justice minister for a while and preparing for the hearing with the Office for Government Policy Coordination in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat,” the source added.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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