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Actions speak louder than words

June 13,2017
In Monday’s address to the National Assembly, President Moon Jae-in pleaded with opposition parties to cooperate with his nominations of top officials in the new administration to “minimize the leadership vacuum” since the ouster of President Park Geun-hye. His desperate appeal was, however, in sharp contrast with the slogans of main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) lawmakers urging the president to keep his promise of five ethical standards when appointing high-profile officials.

The opposition’s reaction to the president who came to the legislature to deliver his message seem to be mean-spirited at best. But the ruling Democratic Party cannot avoid accountability for such treatment by their peers as it did the same when it was the opposition party.

President Moon’s leadership faces a serious political test now that he has passed the early stages of the “honeymoon period.” He must overcome obstacles in getting legislative approvals for his nominations for top posts, an 11.2 trillion won ($9.9 billion) supplementary budget aimed at creating jobs and a bill to reorganize the government.

Opposition parties have passed the deadline, which was Monday, for approving his picks for chief justice of the Constitutional Court and chairman of the Fair Trade Commission. His nomination of a former UN diplomat Kang Kyung-wha as foreign minister was also thwarted by three opposition parties, including the LKP. If Moon pushes forward with his choice for foreign minister under such circumstances, the opposition will most likely disapprove of his choice — Kim Yi-soo — for the head of the Constitutional Court.

Moon will inevitably be faced with the question of whom really to pick between Kim or Kang. Moreover, the president’s nominations on Sunday for five more key posts laid bare his style of appointments totally based on ideological proximity.

Such appointments will help rid the new government of the energy to run the country. Park Jie-won, former head of the splinter opposition People’s Party, vented his resentment towards Moon’s appointments citing a critical lack of justification or excitement. Some pundits may not see anything wrong with his nominations based on the “winner takes all” principle under the presidential system.

But in his inaugural speech, President Moon underscored he would become the president for all, including those who did not vote for him. He must prove it through actions, not words. If he adheres to such obstinacy in appointments, he can hardly be remembered as a successful president.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 13, Page 30