Mistake after mistakeThe cabinet minister nominees facing confirmation hearings are in for a tough ride as reports already raise questions about their eligibility.
Kim Yeon-chul, tapped to head the Unification Ministry, is the most controversial. He has called sanctions “suicidal” for the South and leaders of the ruling party “a piece of gum chewed and spat out by former President Park Geun-hye.” Even some in the ruling party are shaking their head to his radical character.
Choi Jeong-ho, nominee for land and transportation minister, handed over a 1.4 billion won ($1.2 million) apartment he owned for more than 20 years to his daughter just before he was nominated, suggesting the move could have been an attempt to avoid criticism about a minister in charge of real estate measures owning more than one home. He has also been raising rent on his property in Jamsil, southern Seoul, beyond the legal cap of 5 percent per year.
The husband of Park Young-sun, nominee for SMEs and startups minister, hurriedly paid off deferred taxes of over 20 million won just before her nomination was announced.
The secretariat for civilian affairs under Cho Kuk again has not done its homework as presidential appointments never cease to cause controversy. The follies could have easily been spotted. Either the office is slacking extremely or does not want to upset the president. Neither excuse is acceptable.
Cho’s office has been under fire throughout the last two years. Since the president was inaugurated in May 2017, eight vice ministerial level candidates have been withdrawn. Over 10 ministerial level nominees were endorsed without legislative approval.
A special inspection team under Cho was accused of spying on civilians and seizing mobile phones of public officials. Officials from the Blue House have been implicated in sexual harassment scandals, drinking and driving and leaking confidential military documents. Under other presidents, he would have been sacked a long time ago.
Cho is protected by the president and has never had to apologize for his mistakes. He goes on making controversial comments on his social media page and attacks the opposition by appearing on a pro-ruling party YouTube channel.
He may have been a popular, progressive scholar, but in public office, he has displayed incompetence and irresponsibility. He must seriously consider leaving the office if he does not want to further burden the Blue House.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 15, Page 30
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