PM nominee says he will propose inviting opposition politicians to Cabinet

SEOUL-- Prime Minister nominee Chung Sye-kyun said Tuesday he plans to propose forming a Cabinet that involves opposition politicians after the April parliamentary elections.

Speaking at a parliamentary confirmation hearing, Chung, a six-term lawmaker, said his idea is aimed at promoting the "cooperative" governance of state affairs in the face of deepened partisan tensions.

"I am planning to propose to President (Moon Jae-in) an idea of forming a Cabinet that involves the participation of various political parties, after the April 15 general elections end," Chung said at the start of the two-day hearing.

President Moon Jae-in named Chung, a former National Assembly speaker, to succeed Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon in December.

The nomination of the prime minister requires approval by the National Assembly.

In 2018, President Moon considered nominating opposition figures to Cabinet posts. But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party rejected his idea, raising doubts about Moon's sincerity.

Chung apparently held out the card of a bipartisan Cabinet as intensified wrangling by rival parties has almost suspended the legislature. Hundreds of bills related to people's livelihoods have been pending for months.

Cooperation with opposition parties is critical to buttress the government-sponsored bills as Moon passed the mid-point of his single five-year term in November 2019.

Chung pledged to regularly meet political and social leaders to seek social integration, taking an example of weekly meetings with the people by ex-late Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander.

Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, took issue with Chung's nomination, saying that it hampers the principle of separation of powers, given that he is a former parliamentary leader.

"The principle means separation of roles (in the legislative, administrative and judicial branches), but does not mean (there is a need to) separate (the roles) that a person can take," Chung said. "But I'll humbly reflect on such concerns."

Chung pointed out the need to begin discussions to revise the Constitution after the upcoming parliamentary elections.

"I think that a proper time for constitutional revision will be a one-year span after the 21st National Assembly formed," Chung said.

In March 2018, Moon submitted a constitutional revision bill that calls for changing the current single five-year presidential term to a maximum of two successive four-year terms.

But the proposal was scuttled due to opposition parties' boycott in March 2018 when Chung was the parliamentary speaker.

The nominee also said that the government will make efforts to serve as a catalyst in shoring up the slowing economy and seek bold deregulation for a better business environment.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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