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A question of standards

May 30,2017
Any government faces crises. A competent one overcomes it through its abilities. But President Moon Jae-in stopped way short of proving ability when he explained Monday his position on the troubled nomination of former South Jelloa Gov. Lee Nak-yon as prime minister. Lee, foreign minister-nominee Kang Kyung-wha and Fair Trade Commission chief-nominee Kim Sang-jo were all accused by opposition parties of using fake addresses in posh southern Seoul to help their children go to better schools.

During the campaign, Moon vowed to not appoint an individual who commits one of five ethical violations, including the fake registration of addresses and tax evasion. On Monday, he stepped back and asked opposition lawmakers to excuse his imprudent choices for the three top government posts due to a lack of time to sort out qualified candidates. Moon didn’t have the usual presidential transition due to the nature of the snap election in which he was made president.

In a nutshell, Moon urged the public to accept his nominations saying there is no rule that doesn’t have exceptions. Every citizen knows what he’s trying to say. Nevertheless, he cannot deny that he broke his own promise, and it was a promise of importance.

During the election, voters welcomed Moon’s five no’s for appointments. The president should have expressed some regrets and apologized for his appointments from the start. If he had done that and presented practical solutions, he could have earned public approval. But he chose to find excuses for his wrong decisions.

We hope Moon and the Blue House will wake up and see how their attitudes can be perceived as arrogant.

The new government should be put in place as soon as possible to deal with a plethora of challenges at home and abroad. There is a need to first appoint Lee as prime minister to allow him to recommend new cabinet members. We appreciate the People Party’s decision to approve his nomination in an effort to avoid paralysis.

But lawmakers must dig into mounting suspicions about foreign minister nominee Kang’s alleged tax evasion and lies about her wrongful registration of residence. Politicians’ lies matter.

Moon has ordered his presidential office to devise realistic standards for appointments of top government officials. It would be better to ask a bipartisan committee formed by the National Assembly to come up with the standards.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 30, Page 34