The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy raised pressure on President Park Geun-hye Thursday to cancel her ministerial nominations for education and culture, reiterating that the two were unfit for Cabinet posts given the allegations against them.
“I urged President Park to think twice about the two nominees ― Kim Myung-soo and Chung Sung-keun ― while explaining to her our position in detail,” NPAD floor leader Park Young-sun told reporters after meeting with the president at Cheong Wa Dae.
“The president said that she understands (our position) and will think about (our demand).”
Park made the demand during the president’s first meeting with the floor leaders and policy chiefs of the ruling and opposition parties at the presidential office. The Saenuri Party’s floor leader Lee Wan-koo and its policy chief Joo Ho-young, and the NPAD’s floor leader Park and its policy chief Woo Yoon-keun attended.
|President Park Geun-hye guides the floor leaders and policy chiefs of the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy to a table for talks at Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday. From left, behind the president, are Saenuri floor leader Lee Wan-koo, NPAD floor leader Park Young-sun, NPAD policy chief Woo Yoon-keun and Saenuri policy chief Joo Ho-young. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
The NPAD has been upping its offensive against Kim and Chung, underscoring the presidential office’s “flawed” system to vet and select nominees for top government posts.
Education Minister nominee Kim has been under intense criticism for burgeoning allegations of plagiarism, illicit applications for research funds and inflation of career credentials during his tenure as a professor at the state-run Korea National University of Education. Kim denies these allegations.
Culture Minister-designate Chung has also come under fire for his 2005 drunk-driving charge and his past remarks on social networking services that were highly critical of the opposition party before the 2012 presidential election. Chung has apologized for his past misdeeds.
During Thursday’s meeting, President Park proposed holding the meeting with the floor leaders of the rival parties at Cheong Wa Dae on a regular basis. She also suggested that the policy chiefs of the two parties join the presidential committee to prepare for national reunification.
Touching on the need to improve inter-Korean relations, which have been strained amid North Korea’s persistent saber-rattling, NPAD floor leader Park proposed lifting the government’s so-called May 24 sanctions against the North to pave the way for inter-Korean dialogue.
The president said, “The government will think about it on the humanitarian grounds and with a view to restoring the homogeneity of Koreans.”
The sanctions that forbid governmental economic exchanges and cooperation were put in place on May 24 after the North torpedoed the South Korean corvette Cheonan, killing 46 sailors in March 2010.
President Park also called for bipartisan parliamentary cooperation to revitalize the economy and enhance people’s livelihoods.
“People will give you a big round of applause if both parties work closely together to create a model of bipartisan cooperation to serve the people,” Park said.
Park stressed joint efforts to emerge from the April 16 ferry disaster, urging the parties to prioritize addressing issues that directly affect people’s day-to-day lives such as stimulating the sluggish real-estate market and enhancing public safety.
“What can we do to rejuvenate the economy? This question has never slipped out of my mind. The economy showed signs of recovering, but in the aftermath of the ferry incident, the recovery has been faltering,” said Park.
“When the economy gets worse, average people are dealt a serious blow. Their stores have less customers and their lives become difficult when our economy loses its impetus.”
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)