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Moon tells staff to draft constitutional change bill

Feb 06,2018
President Moon Jae-in asked aides to draft a bill for a constitutional amendment, the Blue House said Monday, as the ruling and opposition parties stall in their discussions.

“We are running out of time if we want to hold a national referendum for the constitutional amendment with the local elections [in June],” Moon said during a weekly meeting with the presidential secretariat. “It is best for the National Assembly to reflect the people’s will and agree on the change, but the situation doesn’t allow us the luxury of just waiting for the National Assembly to strike a deal.”

Moon said he has to prepare for a constitutional amendment bill by listening to public opinion. He said the Presidential Commission on Policy Planning will collect public opinion and prepare the president’s constitutional amendment bill.

Moon has been a strong advocate of constitutional amendments, stressing the need to update the current version, written 30 years ago, to expand basic rights and strengthen decentralization. In a New Year’s media conference on Jan. 10, he warned the legislature that his administration will draft a bill if lawmakers do not by March.

Korea will hold local elections on June 13, and holding a national referendum to amend the Constitution on the same day is an efficient way to do it, Moon also said. Holding a referendum separately would cost at least an additional 120 billion won [$112.8 million] in taxpayers’ money, according to Moon.

Moon is pressuring the ruling and opposition parties to speed up their discussions.

“As I have promised to the public, I will do my best to hold local elections and the referendum on the same day,” Moon said. “It is very fortunate that the political parties each announced their positions recently and started a consultation.

“But it is frustrating that they only have principles and directions, not specific progress,” Moon said. “I urge [the ruling and opposition parties] to create an amendment bill as soon as possible and agree on it with responsibility.”

While the ruling Democratic Party has recently charted its plan for constitutional revisions, which will focus on introducing a U.S.-style four-year presidency with a possibility of re-election, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party is refusing to discuss the issue, calling it the Moon administration’s attempt to extend its rule.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]