Enough is enough (kor)

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Enough is enough (kor)

The public is increasingly annoyed by the hypocrisy of Hong Jong-haak, a nominee for head of the Ministry of SMEs and Start-ups, who was found to have acted very inappropriately as a candidate for the head of the ministry, launched by President Moon Jae-in to help support small and mid-size companies.

On Monday, it was revealed that the former lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party sent his daughter to an expensive international middle school, whose tuition fee alone amounts to 15 million won ($13,333) a year. As a lawmaker and scholar, Hong repeatedly argued for “standardization of education” and the shutdown of special-purpose high schools. We have rarely seen such a contradictory case in which a person’s words and actions are so different.

Over the past six months, seven nominees for ministerial and vice ministerial positions have dropped out. Three dropped out during the first six months of Lee Myung-bak’s presidency, and six during the first six months of the Park Geun-hye administration. The Blue House should be held accountable for this. The presidential office says that it picked Hong after thoroughly screening more than 20 candidates for over a month. But we wonder what the Blue House really did.

The Blue House’s manual on scrutinizing candidates for top positions requires presidential aides on personnel affairs to ask them whether their underage children own property and if they have a claim-obligation relationship. But the presidential office picked Hong even though his 13-year-old daughter possessed a 25 percent stake — worth 800 million won — in a commercial building he had inherited from his mother-in-law. That’s not all. His daughter borrowed a whopping 220 million won from her mother.

Nevertheless, Hong was nominated as head of the ministry. So he either lied to the Blue House or the presidential office pushed his nomination even while being aware of his problems.

If the latter is the case, Cho Kuk, presidential secretary for civil affairs, and Cho Hyun-ock, presidential secretary for personnel affairs, must apologize for the loopholes in their screening procedures and take responsibility for the debacle. Moon also must change his stubborn attitude about appointments. If he adheres to picking nominees based on their connections to his campaign, ideological backgrounds and the party, he will run into another disaster. We urge him to nominate people based on competence.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 31


연일 불거지는 홍종학 중소벤처기업부 장관 후보의 위선적인 언행에 국민은 답답함을 넘어 배신감마저 느낀다. '쪼개기' 편법 증여, 학벌주의, 부정적 기업관 등 중기벤처 장관으로는 부적절한 처신들이 고구마 줄기처럼 드러나고 있기 때문이다. 어제는 '교육 평준화'를 역설하며 특목고 폐지를 주장해 온 그가 자신의 딸을 학비만 연간 1500만원 가까이 드는 국제중에 재학시켜 온 사실까지 밝혀졌다. 말과 행동이 달라도 이렇게 다른 경우도 드물 것이다.
반년 가까이 이어지고 있는 이 정부의 1기 조각 과정에서 낙마한 차관급 이상 후보는 7명에 달한다. 이명박 정부(3명), 박근혜 정부(6명)를 넘어서는 신기록이다. 사태가 이 지경이 된 데는 청와대의 책임이 막중하다. 지난 39일간 수십 명을 검증했다는데 도대체 무엇을 검증했는지 알 수 없다.
청와대의 고위 공직자 후보 검증 매뉴얼에 따르면 '미성년 자녀의 부동산 소유 여부'나 '자녀와의 채무 관계 여부'는 반드시 묻게 돼 있는 질문이다. 그런데 홍 후보는 중학생 딸(13)이 장모의 충무로 상가 25%를 물려받아 8억원 넘는 부동산을 소유하고, 엄마와 딸이 금전소비대차계약을 맺고 2억2000만원을 빌렸는데도 별 논란 없이 후보로 지명됐다. 홍 후보가 검증 때 거짓 답변을 했든지, 아니면 청와대가 이런 사실을 알았음에도 지명을 강행했든지 둘 중 하나일 것이다. 어느 쪽이든 문제가 심각하다.
만일 후자라면 조국 민정수석과 조현옥 인사수석은 책임지는 모습을 보여야 할 것이다. 문재인 대통령도 인사에 대한 생각을 바꿔야 한다. '캠코더(캠프·코드·더불어민주당)' 안에서만 사람을 찾고, 어떤 흠결이 드러나도 밀어붙이는 방식은 곤란하다. 인사 참사를 피하려면 '내 편' 대신 '국민 편'이 될 인재를 골라야 하며, 그 원칙을 중기벤처부 장관 후보부터 다시 시작해보면 어떨까 한다.

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