The government’s bill to approve Moon Chang-keuk as the prime minister was postponed Tuesday while the former journalist stood firm under mounting pressure to withdraw his name.
According to the presidential office, the bill’s submission was postponed due to President Park Geun-hye’s schedule on her tour of three Central Asian nations.
Although Moon was rumored to be planning to withdraw his nomination, the former journalist continues to assert that he will clarify the controversies at his confirmation hearing.
The rumor arose following Rep. Suh Chung-won’s suggestion earlier in the day that Moon Chang-keuk needed to step down, adding to pressure on the controversial ex-journalist.
“After looking at Moon’s actions since his nomination and listening to public opinion, I think Moon needs to read the people’s will regarding his words and actions,” Suh said.
Suh is a seven-term lawmaker and a core member of the pro-Park Geun-hye faction. He is also considered one of the most likely candidates to win the Saenuri Party’s chairmanship at next month’s party convention.
Suh said that while he stands by the view that a nominee needs to be assessed according to the Personnel Hearing Act, he felt the need to speak out on the issue as a seasoned politician.
“(Moon) should engage in serious self-examination. Then (Moon) needs to carefully judge what way (is best) for the people.”
Although Suh declined to elaborate on whether he thought Moon should give up the nomination, Suh’s comments have been interpreted as an indirect warning that the Prime Minister-designate should.
|Prime Minister nominee Moon Chang-keuk (Yonhap)|
The seven-term lawmaker is only the latest conservative heavyweight to add his voice to the widespread opposition against Moon.
Key pro-Lee Myung-bak figure Rep. Lee Jae-oh called on Saenuri Party’s would-be leaders to reject Moon, while would-be Saenuri chairman Rep. Rhee In-je has sided with those who have “very negative” sentiments regarding the nominee.
Since the former journalist’s comments regarding historical issues including Japan’s occupation of Korea and the sexual enslavement of Korean women gained attention, he has come under fire from comfort women, religious leaders and civic groups.
As public sentiment builds against Moon, the ruling party is reported to have decided to allow its lawmakers to cast their ballots regardless of the central party’s position, should Moon’s appointment be put to the vote.
As for the Prime Minister-designate, he again expressed his intention to attend the confirmation hearing.
“There were many misunderstandings by the public and also from lawmakers,” Moon told reporters Tuesday.
“I plan to study … the misunderstandings and frankly reveal my feelings.”
Riled by Moon’s and the government’s persistence, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy raised its pressure on the administration.
“Whether Moon’s appointment is pushed through or not will show whether this administration will walk the path of common sense or that of nonsense,” NPAD floor leader Rep. Park Young-sun said.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)