Opposition to file complaint against Kim
President Lee Myung-bak is unlikely to be able to appoint all of his political nominees after opposition parties threatened Wednesday to file charges of professional misconduct against Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho.
Of the 10 political appointees that President Lee chose in a Cabinet reshuffle on Aug. 8, more than half of them failed to dispel allegations over property speculation, tax evasion or other wrongdoing.
Four of them, including culture minister-designate Shin Jae-min, are under heavy criticism for phony residence registration.
“I and other opposition lawmakers will file a complaint against Kim with the prosecution on the violations of law disclosed during his confirmation hearing,” Rep. Park Sun-sook of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) told The Korea Times.
She said several DP lawmakers, including Rep. Park Young-sun, and Rep. Kang Ki-kab of the minor opposition Democratic Labor Party, have expressed their willingness to support the complaint.
Park Young-sun claimed that the statute of limitations on seven illegal activities allegedly committed by Kim has yet to expire.
She said that Kim abused his authority as governor of South Gyeongsang Province to receive a bank loan of 1 billion won ($834,000), allowed his wife to use his official vehicle for private purposes and made a female employee at his office do housework at his residence.
In principle, Lee can stick to his original choices, given that the governing Grand National Party (GNP) has 172 seats in the 299-seat National Assembly, more than the majority needed for endorsement. Only the appointment of a prime minister-nominee requires the National Assembly’s approval, while confirmation hearings of the other candidates are non-binding.
However, observers say the political risk for the President will be too grave should he disregard public sentiment.
Even Kim Moo-sung, the GNP floor leader, has acknowledged that some of the nominees may have to withdraw their names if their past unethical deeds arouse deep public distrust.
Many governing party lawmakers predict that one or two of the nominees will need to be sacrificed.
In contrast, the DP says nearly all of the nominees are unfit to take top government posts.
“It is wrong and inappropriate to say only one or two of them will need to pull out,” Rep. Jun Byung-hun of the DP said. “Most of them should voluntarily withdraw their nominations as their ethical problems have been found to be too grave.”
On Tuesday, the DP said it would not endorse the appointment of Chin Soo-hee, health and welfare minister-designate; Cho Hyun-oh, national police chief-designate; and Lee Joo-ho, education, science and technology minister-designate.
The DP claim that Chin failed to dispel suspicions on a bribery scandal involving her brother’s company, or explain why her daughter unlawfully benefitted from National Health Insurance, and how her wealth had increased.
They also decided to reject Cho for his ethical problems, saying he has too many flaws to serve as the head of the police. Cho has been in the hot seat for his controversial remarks over former President Roh Moo-hyun’s suicide and the families of the victims of the Navy ship Cheonan that sank on March 26.
Lee has been under fire for alleged tax evasion and the duplication of a scholastic paper.