Women groups came together to discuss the issue of Prime Minister appointee Chang Sang being rejected by the National Assembly on July 31, bringing to naught the appointment of the first-ever woman Prime Minister in Korea.
During the discussion, participants said that although the result of the vote was disappointing, the public hearing of the Prime Minister appointee did have a positive effect, in that it proved how stringent the public has become in demanding moral uprightness from high-ranking government officials.
The Korea Women's Associations United (KWAU) held the discussion to evaluate the public hearing at 2 p.m. on August 7 in the small meeting room in Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Most of the participants agreed that "despite the historic significance of the first-ever woman Prime Minister since the birth of the Republic, the rejection of Chang Sang is a reflection of the public opinion that strict standards be applied in assessing the moral character of high-ranking officials, whether they are male or female."
The KWAU pointed out that "nevertheless, the result of the National Assembly vote is also a reflection of the traditional attitude of Korean society towards women." KWAU's position on this issue is that "In order to clear any suspicion that Chang Sang's capabilities came under fire because of her gender, all future candidates for high-ranking government posts, not to mention presidential candidates and legislators, should be examined using the same standards that were applied to Chang Sang."
In order for future public hearings of government official appointees to judge appointees' capabilities and morality based on accurate facts and to establish a proper model for civil servants, the KWAU recommended that ▲principles and concrete standards for reviewing government official appointments should be formulated and applied right up to the presidential candidate, ▲more time should be prepare for and conduct the public hearings, and more professional staff recruited to ensure full inspection, and ▲public hearings should become a mandatory checkpoint for all important public posts central to state power such as the Public Prosecutor General, Director of the National Police Agency, Director of the National Tax Agency, and all Ministers of administrative branches. The KWAU also called for more concrete and active plans for women's political participation, such as allocating 30% quota for women in the policy-making and political processes in order to establish gender equality in politics, a prerequisite to complete democracy.
The voting that followed the public hearing on Prime Minister appointee Chang Sang was participated by 244 out of the 259 registered members of the National Assembly (125 from GNP, 105 from NMDP, 9 from ULD, and 5 from none negotiation groups), and the result was 100 in favor of the appointment, 142 against, 1 abstention and 1 invalid vote.