Fri, Sep 17, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Lee Myung-bak picks audit board chief as new PM

AFP, SEOUL

Board of Audit and Inspection chairman Kim Hwang-sik, center, answers reporters’ questions as he arrives at his office in Seoul yesterday after being picked as the country’s new prime minister.

PHOTO: REUTERS

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has picked the head of the state audit board as his new prime minister, Lee’s office said yesterday, after a previous nominee quit over claims of misconduct.

Kim Hwang-sik, 62, currently heads the Board of Audit and Inspection, a body overseeing the conduct of government agencies and officials. He was a Supreme Court judge from 2005 to 2008.

The conservative Lee, who is midway through the single five-year term that South Korean presidents serve, has suffered a series of political blows following claims of misconduct by officials.

“Candidate Kim’s flawless integrity, morality and thorough self-discipline make him the best figure who suits our administration’s policy direction of seeking a fair society,” presidential chief of staff Yim Tae-hee said.

Kim’s nomination must secure parliamentary approval.

This month, Lee’s foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan stepped down after being accused of nepotism when his daughter was picked for a ministry post.

YOUTH APPEAL

Last month, Lee announced the biggest Cabinet reshuffle since he took office in a bid to shore up voter support, especially from younger people.

However, three of his nominees, including the man picked as prime minister, resigned following allegations of misconduct made during parliamentary confirmation hearings, dealing a blow to Lee’s “fair society” drive.

The previous prime ministerial nominee, Kim Tae-ho, was accused of under-reporting income, illegally taking bank loans for election campaigns and making local government employees do household chores when he was a provincial governor.

He denied some of the charges.

The president holds the most power under the South Korean system, while the prime minister’s role is largely to coordinate policy.

The post has been vacant since late July when Chung Un-chan offered his resignation to take responsibility for failing to win parliamentary approval for a key development project.

Lee’s conservative ruling Grand National Party suffered a major defeat in June local elections, although it bounced back by unexpectedly winning five of eight parliamentary by-elections on July 28.

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