A flawed appointmentPolitical strife worsened after the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) announced a boycott of further parliamentary proceedings to protest to the president’s appointment of Cho Hae-ju, a Kookmin University political science professor, as a member of the National Election Commission (NEC). President Moon Jae-in’s action has caused unnecessary trouble for the legislature that has an urgent workload at the start of the year.
The Blue House claimed the president went ahead with the appointment using his executive power because the opposition did not comply with a request to initiate confirmation procedures. The president has the authority to name a senior public official if the legislative does not hand in its findings and decision within the given time.
The members of the election commission must ensure that rival parties and candidates play fairly by the rules in campaigning. Neutrality and fairness is a must for anyone in that position. The term and position of a commissioner is guaranteed by the Constitution and law to ensure political independence. Commissioners must endure the legislative confirmation process to ensure no dispute in their eligibility. Although named by the president, Cho should have gone through the confirmation hearings, which can be watched by the public.
The questions about the candidate are reasonable. The opposition doubts his neutrality, citing his past service as a special adviser to the Democratic Party (DP). The LKP opposes the appointment fearing state influence in elections and accused the ruling power of undermining the Constitution and democratic values. The DP denies Cho actually worked for the party. But it is wrong to name someone suspected of working for a party’s campaign to the NEC.
To justify the appointment, the DP said the LKP, too, had appointed one of its members to the NEC. But that’s a shameful excuse from a force that has gained ruling power after the downfall of a conservative front led by a president impeached and jailed for abuse of elected power.
The president has repeatedly endorsed candidates the legislature refused to confirm. This time, he skipped the hearing to name Cho. The legislative confirmation procedure should best be done away with if it is to be taken so lightly. The LKP and Bareunmirae Party has pressed charges against Cho and Yoon Ho-joong, the DP secretary general, for violating the public office law. Before the political standoff worsens, the Blue House should consider withdrawing the nomination.
JoongAng Sunday, Jan. 26, Page 30.