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(EDITORIAL from Korea Joongang Daily on May 5)

Editorials from Korean dailies 09:30 May 05, 2022

The DP's off-track strategy

The confirmation hearing for Prime Minister Nominee Han Duck-soo ended Tuesday. When the Democratic Party (DP) attacked him for his revolving-door career from prime minister to a highly-paid counsel at a law firm, Han took the accusation in stride. "I used my experience and expertise as a government official within the bounds of the law," he said. But the DP concluded that Han is unfit to serve as prime minister, pointing to a "conflict of interest" and "overly generous pay." The People Power Party (PPP) strongly defended Han, citing "no violation of laws" and "no serious flaws."

The time has come for the National Assembly to put his nomination to a vote. The legislature has already passed the deadline. It should have finished the confirmation process by the end of April, but the DP delayed it to May 2 and 3. The schedule for a full vote is not fixed yet. Since the launch in 2003 of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, eight of the 13 prime minister nominees have received legislative approval before the deadline.

The DP is attempting to link the fixing of the voting schedule for Han duck-soo to the future of Justice Minister nominee Han Dong-hoon. Floor leader Park Hong-geun conceded the possibility of rejecting Han Duck-soo as prime minister if the President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol pushes his appointment of Han Dong-hoon -- a former senior prosecutor methodically purged by the Moon administration -- as justice minister. Some DP lawmakers want to endorse the appointment of the prime minister nominee in return for rejecting the justice minister nominee. The DP delayed the confirmation hearing of Han Dong-hoon once again to May 9, a day before Yoon will be sworn in as president.

Confirmation hearings are intended to examine the qualifications of candidates for public office. Therefore, lawmakers must check the abilities of the two nominees to orchestrate the smooth operation of the administration and handle judicial administration. The legislature must look into their qualifications separately.

The ruling party's move to link the endorsement of the prime minister nominee to that of the justice minister nominee does not make sense. If the DP has reached a conclusion that they are not qualified to serve in the incoming administration, it can vote against their appointments.

Given its majority in the National Assembly, the DP can reject their appointments if it wants, as clearly seen in the passage on Tuesday of two contentious bills aimed at stripping the prosecution of its investigation authority entirely. The DP's strategy is simply not right.
(END)

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