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Assembly speaker vows to promote constitutional change

July 18,2018
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Moon Hee-sang
Korea’s new parliamentary speaker vowed efforts Tuesday to prod the ruling and opposition parties to reach an agreement on a bill to revise the Constitution by the end of the year.

Moon Hee-sang, who was elected last Friday, called a constitutional revision “the people’s order” as parliament failed to handle a government-proposed constitutional revision bill put forward earlier this year amid a partisan standoff.

“As speaker, I will make my utmost efforts to help rival parties come up with a bill on constitutional revision by the end of this year,” Moon said in a speech celebrating the 70th anniversary of Constitution Day.

He expressed regret that the country marked the anniversary without a new constitution.

“Nevertheless, about 80 percent of people call for seeking the Constitution revision again,” said the speaker, who will head the National Assembly for a two-year term.

In March, President Moon Jae-in submitted a bill that called for changing the current single five-year presidential term to a maximum of two successive four-year terms.

Korea’s Constitution was last revised in 1987 after decades of military-backed authoritarian rule. The current single, five-year presidential term was then adopted, together with a direct presidential election system.

But the current system has also been blamed for concentrating too much power in the office of the president.

Moon earlier wanted to hold a referendum on constitutional revision along with local elections in June.

But the National Assembly failed in April to revise the law on national referendums, making it impossible to hold a concurrent vote on the issue.

Opposition parties have been calling for constitutional revision to end the current presidential system after they were stung by a crushing defeat in the June 13 local elections.

Yonhap