PM nominee attends parliamentary confirmation hearing for second day

SEOUL-- Prime minister nominee Chung Sye-kyun attended a parliamentary confirmation hearing for the second day on Wednesday, with lawmakers zeroing in on his qualifications and ethical standards.

A day earlier, his career as former National Assembly speaker was mainly targeted by opposition lawmakers due to concerns that the nomination of the ex-parliamentary speaker to the No. 2 Cabinet post could hamper the principle of separation of powers.

On Wednesday, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) continued to take issue with speculation about Chung's role in a land development project in Hwaseong, south of Seoul.

Citing a report by the state audit agency, the conservative party lashed out at speculation that Chung may have exerted his influence to help his aide receive favors from the state urban development operator in Hwaseong.

Chung denied the allegations, saying he is "stunned" by the LKP's groundless claim.

It remains uncertain whether lawmakers will smoothly adopt a parliamentary confirmation hearing report. The nomination of the prime minister requires approval by the National Assembly.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) wants the National Assembly to hold a plenary session on Monday to vote on a motion to approve Chung's nomination.

Jan. 16 is the deadline by which public officials should step down to run in the April 15 parliamentary elections.

If the motion is not passed by then, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, who plans to resume political activities, may have to decide whether to resign to run in the elections.

Wrangling over whether to approve Chung's nomination could complicate putting the operation of the National Assembly back on track.

The assembly is scheduled to handle 180 bills related to people's living as the LKP recanted its move to use a filibuster over those proposals earlier this week.

The governing DP wants the parliamentary speaker to put on the table contentious bills on granting police more investigative power at next week's plenary meeting.

The move will likely herald further tensions with the LKP, which has strongly protested the ruling party-led bloc's drive to pass reform bills on a legislative fast track.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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