The ruling and opposition parties provisionally agreed on Friday to delay a parliamentary vote on Prime Minister nominee Kim Tae-ho to Wednesday next week when a regular parliamentary session opens.
The decision came as opposition lawmakers strongly objected to his appointment, arguing that the 47-year-old nominee is “problematic,” citing a series of issues including alleged ethical lapses and legal violations.
“I believe that we can never (endorse the appointment). We wouldn’t make any concessions in any case when it comes to the most important post of the prime minister,” said Rep. Park Ji-won, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, in a media interview.
Ruling and opposition party lawmakers were locking horns over the adoption of a report on Kim’s confirmation hearing, a due procedure before a parliamentary vote on his appointment.
If the report is not adopted, the National Assembly speaker can set up a floor vote at a plenary session.
Opposition lawmakers reiterated that they were against the appointment, contending that the former governor of South Gyeongsang Province is “immoral and dishonest” considering the reversal of his earlier remarks related to his corruption allegations.
Kim has been suspected of taking illicit money from a businessman involved in a high-profile bribery scandal. He has denied the allegations.
At a special parliamentary committee, the opposition lawmakers said that the report cannot be adopted until Kim submits sufficient materials related to his corruption allegations. However, the lawmakers from the ruling Grand National Party stressed that the report should be adopted in line with parliamentary rules.
The GNP has maintained that Kim has no “definitive” defects to assume the top post in the Cabinet. But some party ranks have remained skeptical of his appointment.
The majority party appears concerned that the failure to secure parliamentary consent for Kim could negatively impact the management of state affairs when the government is seeking a fresh start as it enters the second half of its term.
The ruling party, which holds 172 seats in the 299-member legislature, appears to be reluctant to press ahead for parliamentary consent for his appointment given that public sentiment could worsen against the ruling bloc.
The public opinion regarding the appointment of other nominated figures in the Aug. 8 reshuffle has deteriorated as a string of their legal violations and ethical problems were revealed during the confirmation hearings.
Their problems include falsifying their residences, plagiarizing theses, real estate speculation and allegations of draft-dodging and tax evasions.
On Friday, Assembly committees adopted reports on the confirmation hearings of National Tax Service nominee Lee Hyun-dong and Knowledge and Economy Minister nominee Lee Jae-hoon, Culture Minister nominee Shin Jae-min and special affairs minister-nominee Lee Jae-oh.
The appointment of ministers and police chief does not require parliamentary approval.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)