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PM nominee confirmation hearing fails in boycott, parties negotiate to reschedule

Prime Minister nominee Han Duk-soo attends his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Prime Minister nominee Han Duk-soo attends his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The parliamentary confirmation hearing for Prime Minister nominee Han Duk-soo has been rescheduled to next week, after the hearing fell apart due to a boycott from the liberal bloc on Tuesday.

On the second day of the two-day confirmation hearing, the special committee members for the hearing from the the Democratic Party of Korea and minor opposition Justice Party were absent, as they had been the day before, aside from their respective committee heads.

As the event ended without proper vetting and an agreement on the nominee, the special committee’s chiefs from each party agreed to reschedule the event for May 2-3. The special committee for personnel confirmation hearing will hold a meeting Wednesday to sort out the details on Han’s hearing, the lawmakers said.

Rep. Kang Byung-won of the Democratic Party and Rep. Bae Jin-gyo of the Justice Party, both of whom serve as head of the special committee for their respective parties, were present at the hearing Tuesday to criticize Han for not providing necessary information to clarify some controversies the nominee faces.

The rival parties boycotted the confirmation hearing for Han, as they say Han has not provided sufficient materials to properly review and assess him for the prime minister post.

While Han faces several allegations, including that he was given special treatment for having served in many high-ranking government positions, Han has not provided ample explanation and evidence to prove his denials, the rival parties claim.

The People Power Party, which will soon become the ruling party, on the other hand, refuted, saying the rival parties are asking for “unreasonable” information and are making “too many” requests for information compared to previous nominees who passed the parliamentary vetting to serve as prime minister for the incumbent Moon Jae-in administration.

Han, who has already served as prime minister and finance minister among other government posts, has come under fire for several allegations in regards to conflicts of interest, including one where he received hefty salaries totaling 1.8 billion won ($1.46 million) as an adviser at a law firm from December 2017 to 2022, after he had retired from public service.

Because the prime minister has the authority to make requests to the president for the appointment of ministers, the delay in confirmation of the prime minister could also interrupt the official appointment of other ministers for the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol administration.

As the prime minister post requires parliamentary approval for appointment, unlike other Cabinet members, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol might have to kick off his administration with acting ministers if Han fails to pass the vetting process at the National Assembly before the presidential inauguration on May 10.

The People Power Party claims that the Democratic Party and Justice Party are requesting three to four times more materials than they had for prime minister nominees for the incumbent Moon Jae-in administration.

According to the future ruling party, 319 requests were made for Lee Nak-yon and 250 requests for Chung Sye-kyun, each of whom served as prime minister in the Moon government. For the current prime minister, 347 requests were submitted.

For Han, 1,090 requests for information were made across separate issues, the party said.

Lawmakers from the Democratic Party and Justice Party, however, say some of their requests overlap with those made by the lawmakers of the People Power Party, and that the data Han has submitted does not address the controversies surrounding the nominee.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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