Parliament Kicks Off Confirmation Hearing for PM Nominee Chung Hong-won
Is the prime minister nominee, a legal professional for most of his life, qualified to serve as a top government official?
That was the running theme of Chung Hong-won's confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
The 68-year old lawyer, who formerly worked in the public sector as a prosecutor and briefly as a member of the Central Election Management Committee, was on the hot seat throughout the day.
A special committee comprised of seven ruling party lawmakers and six opposition lawmakers focused on how the nominee sees the role of a prime minister and whether he has specific plans for addressing some of the key problems plaguing the nation.
The lawmakers wanted assurances that Chung could perform well under a so-called responsible prime minister system, something that President-elect Park Geun-hye has pledged to establish.
The system will delegate more authority to the prime minister in a move to prevent the president from wielding too much power.
"People nowadays want a responsible prime minister. What do you think a responsible prime minister is, and how do you intend to become one? "
"One of the key responsibilities is to rightfully exercise the right to recommend personnel for the Cabinet. I promise to faithfully carry out that duty."
However, certain lawmakers criticized Chung for exercising that right prematurely,.. for recommending picks for President-elect Park's cabinet BEFORE gaining parliamentary approval for the government restructuring bill.
The lawmakers said Chung, in doing that violated the law.
Chung responded by saying he had no choice, seeing as how little time was left before the launch of the new government.
The lawmakers also asked the nominee how he intends to help the president-elect fulfill her campaign pledges, from creating jobs and reforming welfare policies to building trust with North Korea and strengthening the finances of local governments.
They said that the nominee has failed to give detailed answers on many of the questions.
On day two of the hearing on Thursday, the special committee plans to test the nominee's ethical qualifications and his former activities as a public official.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.