Chief state auditor nominee Chung Tong-ki withdrew Wednesday, two days after the ruling party turned its back on him amid rising public antipathy toward the privileges he was granted for his former job as a prosecutor.
“I decided to step down today from the post as chairman nominee of the Board of Audit and Inspection,” Chung said in a press conference.
Chung read out a lengthy statement about his sufferings over what he called “false accusations” against him, stressing that he never compromised his integrity.
Chung said he had hoped to clear everything at the parliamentary confirmation hearing, but decided to step out to avoid causing trouble for the president now that even the ruling party was urging him to withdraw.
“Demanding resignation without a hearing is no different from giving a death sentence without trial,” Chung said.
Chief state auditor nominee Chung Tong-ki bows after announcing his decision to give up the post at a news conference Wednesday. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
The governing Grand National Party on Monday joined opposition parties in urging Chung to resign, saying the former senior presidential secretary is not eligible to be the chairman of the BAI.
Chung came under fire for earning nearly 700 million won in just seven months at a law firm immediately after resigning as the deputy prosecutor general. The main opposition Democratic Party said his law firm salary doubled after he joined the presidential transition team of then president-elect Lee Myung-bak.
The fact that he served as Lee’s top aide for civil affairs also raised doubts over whether he was right for the BAI chairman’s job which requires political neutrality and professional independence.
The GNP said Chung made a “courageous decision” for the president and the government.
“We understand Chung’s resignation as an agonizing decision,” GNP spokesperson Bae Eun-hee said in a statement.
GNP chairman Ahn Sang-soo denied any conflict with the presidential office, although some GNP lawmakers such as Rep. Ahn Kyung-ryul and Rep. Kang Seung-kyu called for closer consultations to avoid clashes.
The DP said Chung’s withdrawal was the result of “the people’s judgment on the unfair, revolving-door shakeup to do favors for the president’s confidants.”
“(The nomination failure) has its roots in President Lee’s wrongful idea of personnel management,” the DP’s floor spokesperson Jeon Hyun-hee said in a press briefing.
“The president must apologize to the public and reprimand those in charge of personnel management at the presidential office.”
Jeon also renewed the DP’s demand for a parliamentary inquiry and an investigation by a special counsel into the government’s alleged illegal surveillance on civilians which took place when Chung was serving as the top presidential aide for civil affairs.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org