August 23, 2002 18:22
The confirmation hearing for prime minister-designate Chang Dae-whan
Started to run into problems Friday as the previous cooperative atmosphere between the feuding Grand National Party and Millennium Democratic Party has been poisoned over a controversial and acrimonious reshuffle at the prosecution. GNP member Hong Joon-pyo alleged Chang borrowed W2.38 billion from Hanvit Bank, now Woori Bank using the Maeil Business Daily's deposits as collateral, to buy shares. Chang was president of the newspaper.
Hong said that if true the action was a clear case of embezzlement and Chang could be arrested.
Ahn Kyung-ryul, also from the GNP, added Chang had purchased 675 pyong of rice paddies in Gimjae in 1987, violating the Agriculture Reform Law as he did not live there and was obviously engaged in speculation. The ARL states a person must have lived within 4km of land to be purchased for at least six months.
Chang held a news conference after the hearing and acknowledged registering living in Gangnam, although he does not live there, so that his sons could attend a better school, and admitted purchasing land on Jeju Island where he wanted to retire to.
The GNP leadership are now in an awkward decision, as having voted against the first prime minister-designate, it could lose public sympathy if it voted a second one out the day before the no confidence vote in the justice minister. Analysts say they are likely to allow a free vote of its assemblymen, while the MDP are presumed to be going to push the party line.
(Cho Hee-chun, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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