Stop hampering the smooth transfer of powerConfirmation hearings for members of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s first Cabinet, including prime minister nominee Han Duck-soo, began on Monday. But the ruling Democratic Party (DP) found fault with Han, a former prime minister, for not submitting all the documents it had requested earlier, denouncing him for having received 2 billion won ($1.58 million) from Kim & Chang, the largest law firm in Korea, after retirement in return for his job as a counselor.
During the confirmation hearing for Land Minister nominee Won Hee-ryong, former Jeju governor, he was criticized for favoritism related to a park project. In the super confirmation week, lawmakers need to screen Yoon’s nominees.
The hearings offered a chance to see the policy direction of the new government. Finance Minister nominee Choo Kyung-ho, who would also serve as vice prime minister for economic affairs if he passes the confirmation hearing, mentioned the need to delay an eased real estate tax system by about two years. (As a candidate, Yoon promised to introduce it from early next year in his campaign.) Choo also mentioned the need to introduce the planned integration of property tax and comprehensive real estate tax over the long term. He also said he would not seek a dramatic change in the existing tenant rights laws.
The hearings are being held belatedly amid an acute battle between the DP and the opposition People Power Party (PPP) over the DP’s relentless push to strip the prosecution of its investigative authority once and for all. According to the National Assembly Act, lawmakers should have finished their approval process for Prime Minister nominee Han by April 26, but it was delayed over and over. As a result, confirmation hearing schedules for other minister nominees also were fixed late, a sad repeat of their old practice.
In particular, it is very inappropriate for the DP to first disapprove of Han in a bid to thwart the appointments of three other nominees — Han Dong-hoon, Chung Ho-young and Kim In-chul — for justice minister, health minister and education minister, respectively. The Constitution mandates that a president appoint government ministers after a prime minister recommends them to the boss. If Han’s confirmation is delayed or rejected, it can cause a big trouble in forming Yoon’s first Cabinet.
In that case, Yoon’s administration could start even without filling all the Cabinet positions. If new minister seats remain empty, ministers from the outgoing administration may have to serve in the new administration for a while. To avoid such a mishap, the DP must help the incoming administration fill Yoon’s first Cabinet for the smooth operation of the new government.