Loser appointmentsThe National Assembly held confirmation hearings last week for five nominees for cabinet positions in the government. Among the five, the nominees to head the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Employment and Labor passed their hearings with bipartisan support. The remaining three are stuck in limbo due to opposition by the People Power Party (PPP). They are Science and ICT Minister nominee Lim Hye-sook, Oceans and Fisheries Minister nominee Park Jun-young and Land Minister nominee Noh Hyeong-ouk.
The National Assembly must adopt the required report on their approval and send it to President Moon Jae-in on Monday, the deadline. Over the past four years, Moon pressed ahead with appointments of 29 candidates for ministerial positions without consent from the opposition. In the 20th session of the Assembly, lawmakers failed to adopt the required report, and in the current session, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) often adopted the report unilaterally based on its overwhelming majority in the legislature.
The PPP is vehemently opposed to approving the three controversial nominees. Their fates will be determined as early as today.
The ruling camp’s cautiousness reflects its nervousness about growing public sentiment against the three nominees. Some party insiders still embrace them citing “no particular problems with their past” or “no violation of the government’s seven criteria,” including tax evasion and real estate speculation. But the three nominees exposed an entirely different level of inappropriateness as top government officials.
Lim, the Science and ICT Minister nominee, frequently listed her husband’s name on her academic theses and traveled overseas with her family on a government-funded program. Oceans Minister nominee Park’s wife smuggled expensive china from the UK before her husband returned home after finishing his job at the embassy in London and sold it on Facebook.
The DP suffered crushing defeats in the April 7 mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan after fielding candidates by revising its party Constitution, which strictly banned it from doing so when its members committed serious crimes. If the DP should approve the appointments of the three nominees, it will face an irrevocable backlash from the public. That’s politics based on arrogance.
Today marks President Moon’s fourth year in office. He delivers a special address in the morning. We hope he apologizes for his repeated appointment fiascos and withdraws his nominees immediately.