The National Assembly will hold separate confirmation hearings this week for President Park Geun-hye’s choice of new culture minister, tax agency chief and police commissioner, the final batch of her government reshuffle carried out in the wake of Sewol disaster.
The nominees who are set to go through the parliamentary screening process are: Culture Minister nominee Kim Jong-deok, National Tax Service chief-designate Lim Hwan-soo and police commissioner-appointee Kang Sin-myeong. The three candidates are not subject to parliamentary approval.
Observers say the three are likely to face smooth sailing at the hearing as no major grounds for disqualification have been found. But lawmakers from both the ruling and the main opposition parties said they would closely examine the nominees by questioning their work capabilities, leadership and ethics.
The hearing sessions will start Monday with tax agency chief nominee Lim, an expert on the administration of national tax. Despite the positive evaluation of the nominee at the NTS, Lim is expected to face criticism from the opposition lawmakers over allegations that he received a master’s degree while serving the military.
Culture Minister designate Kim also faces suspicions that he underreported the price of a house he sold in 1995, allegedly to pay less transaction tax. The Hongik University art professor is likely to be grilled over whether he will be capable of leading the ministry, which supervises not only policies on culture, but also on tourism and sports.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy is also likely to question police commissioner-nominee Kang over how he was promoted in a short period of time since the previous Lee Myung-bak administration. The 50-year-old nominee served as presidential secretary for public security in 2009 and returned to the same post when Park took the office last year. He was named as commissioner of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, late last year.
If the parliament agrees to adopt the reports on the nominee’s confirmation hearing, the formation of the new Cabinet will be complete.
For the past three months, Park has been dealt a heavy blow for her repeated nomination debacles. Two of her prime minister nominees as well as two other minister nominees stepped down over alleged ethical misdeeds. The resignation of nominees immediately raised questions over Cheong Wa Dae’s personnel selection system and caused further delay in the launch of her new Cabinet.