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Assembly must lead the revision

Mar 19,2018
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) proposed that rival parties work together for a joint bill on a constitutional amendment as the presidential office is poised to submit its own version due to slow movement in the National Assembly. The conservative party recommended rewriting the single five-year term presidency to giving the prime minister more power to prevent a mighty presidency. It is a relief to see the legislature finally taking the initiative and accelerating moves for constitutional reform. Veterans of the ruling Democratic Party also called for a legislature-led amendment.

It is right for the Assembly to discuss and rewrite the Constitution. An amendment led by the president is not only inappropriate but also is unrealistic given the opposition-majority legislature. The Blue House nevertheless plans to submit its version to pressure the legislature, calculating that when the move falls through, the onus can fall on the opposition.

The LKP and other opposition parties are largely blamed for the impasse. The LKP opposed the amendment in fear of losing the June 13 local elections. The opposition had a good reason to argue against setting a time limit on the constitutional reform to June. But it nevertheless was irresponsible for opposing for opposition’s sake. Now that the LKP has tabled its move, constitutional reform is expected to dominate the legislative agenda. Each party should become more serious and proactive in the discussions.

The majority of the people believe the 1987 Constitution must be updated. The fall of former President Park Geun-hye was the result of concentration of presidential power. Her predecessor Lee Myung-bak also faces criminal charges for the same reason. Almost all presidents elected since the 1987 Constitution have faced criminal investigations and charges for corruption related to family members, relatives and aides. The flaw in the presidential system is evident.

President Moon Jae-in pledged to adjust mighty presidential power and respect the separation of powers. But the government’s outline on constitutional reform does not include such a mechanism to reduce presidential power. The presidential influence over powerful authorities remains intact.

If President Moon submits his revision to the Assembly on Mar. 21 as scheduled and is disapproved, it would be hard to revive the drive for an amendment. The vicious cycle of a mighty president and political vendetta will go on. The legislature must speed up its discussions.


JoongAng Sunday, March 17-18, Page 34