Two of Moon’s cabinet picks are resisted by repsUpon returning from the Group of 20 Summit in Germany, President Moon Jae-in spent Monday pondering a series of domestic political challenges, including the delayed appointments of key ministers.
Before leaving for his six-day trip last week, Moon requested the National Assembly to approve confirmation hearing reports for nominees to head the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Labor by Monday. Song Young-moo, the defense minister nominee, and Cho Dae-yop, the labor minister nominee, were grilled at the end of last month, but no reports were endorsed as of Monday. Opposition lawmakers rejected them for ethical lapses.
The National Assembly had until July 3 to approve the reports, and Moon asked them to do so by Monday, giving a week extension. If no reports are endorsed, Moon has the power to make formal appointments of the nominees without assembly confirmation.
Moon has already bypassed opposition lawmaker disapproval to appoint Kim Sang-jo, a critic of conglomerates, as head of the Fair Trade Commission, and Kang Kyung-wha, a longtime UN diplomat, as foreign minister.
Three opposition parties, however, are trying to link the two nominees’ fates with the passage of Moon’s supplementary budget request to create jobs. They said both Song and Cho are unfit to serve in the posts and pressured Moon to withdraw the nominations ? or they won’t vote for the supplementary budget.
Song and Cho are both under fire for records of driving under the influence of alcohol. Song was also criticized for having received extremely high consulting fees from a law firm that represented a defense company after his retirement from military service.
Cho was criticized for having served as an outside director of a company that he partly owns while working as a professor at Korea University in violation of the school’s regulations. He said during the confirmation hearing that he did not know he was listed as an outside director of the broadcasting firm. Lawmakers said he was lying because he owns 50-percent of the company and the claim made no sense.
“Their fates are up to the president,” a senior presidential aide told the Munhwa. “Their flaws are not related to the jobs they are being asked to perform.”
The Blue House wants the supplementary budget bill to be approved in the July session of the legislature in order to spend the money during the second half of this year. Two conservative opposition parties, however, said Moon’s decisions to appoint Song and Cho will lead to their boycotting of the legislature. Moon’s Democratic Party does not have a majority in the National Assembly.
The People’s Party initially promised to deal with the confirmations and supplementary budget bill separately, but it recently withdrew its cooperation after Democratic Party Chairwoman Choo Mi-ae’s criticism of the party’s smear campaign against Moon during the presidential campaign in May.
Some progress, however, was made in the formation of Moon’s cabinet as the confirmation hearing report for another nominee was approved Monday. You Young-min, named to head the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, underwent the confirmation hearing last week.
The ruling Democratic Party also introduced Monday the supplementary budget bill to the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, but major opposition parties boycotted the committee meeting. Rep. Youn So-ha of the Justice Party was the only opposition lawmaker who attended the session.
The Democratic Party and the Justice Party, however, don’t have enough votes to pass the bill in the committee and send it to a main voting session.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]