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Revamping for double term presidency

Posted July. 12, 2000 13:45,   


Following a call by certain members of the National Assembly, including the opposition party`s Kim Deog-Ryong and the ruling Millenium Democratic Party`s Song Suk-chan among others, some political analysts predict a round of congressional debate around the corner concerning possibility of Constitutional amendment of the Government system. The suggestion concerned a legislation allowing a double four-year term for the office of the President and the creation of the office of the vice-presidency

Through press conferences held earlier this year and the Congressional hearing held last month, the head of the Grand National Party (GNP), Lee Hoi-Chang, and the Prime Minister Lee Han-Dong, have both expressed their "willingness" to examine and discuss the question of Constitutional amendment allowing a double term of the Presidency. Such willingness by the major constituents lends weight to the upcoming debate.

Rep. Song Suk-Chan stated, "The four-year term is a necessary one which would work toward decentralization of power as well as easing the current regional antagonism splitting the nation east and west. The creation of a vice-presidency would allow for a better executive governance during its search and promotion of a successor prior to the end of the President`s term."

Rep. Kim Deog-Ryong stated, "With the greater democratic process having being achieved proven by the break of power monopoly by the once ruling party, the current limitation of single term no longer is necessary. It is time now to consider the double 4-year term and the creation of a vice-presidency which would place a greater "responsible governance" duty on the government and ease the tension between the eastern and western regions.

During the floor speeches at the Assembly session on the July 11, calls were made by eleven representatives asking Prime Minister Lee and other representatives to consider legislation for the amendments of the Presidential term and a vice-presidency. The proposal was made along with an amendment for the National Security Law and a prove into alleged illegal election activities during the April 13 parliamentary elections.

The representative members of the GNP¡¯s declared that, "The April 13 general election was an epitome of scandalous election practice bordering on unlawfulness and the Office of the Prosecution failed in its investigation to be an objective investigative body." In response to the GNP`s call for impartial investigation, the ruling party has remarked that, "Currently there is a greater number of the ruling party`s members being indicted and under investigation. The ruling party is the real victim of impartial bias of the Prosecution`s Office."

On the same day, Rep. Sohn Hak-Kyu (GNP), Moon Hee-Sang (NMD), and Rep Im Jong-Suk have requested that the current National Security Law be modified or scrapped altogether for one which reflects the current warming of inter-Korean relation.

In response to National Security Law amendment, Prime Minister Lee firmly stated, "At this point in time, the question of such changes is not under consideration." He added, "However, should the course of events arising from the improvement of inter-Korean relationship warrant a change to the Constitution, in other words, should the amendments become necessary for government to could carry out its duties, it will be considered then." His statements hint at the possibility of Constitutional amendment concerning National Security Law at some later time dependent on the on-going thaw.

In his answer to the double 4-year term, Prime Minister Lee stated, "As such amendments must first be first dealt with by the Assembly, the government will remain aloof."

Concerning the current discord in the financial banking sector, he stated, "Of the total number of personnel in the banking industry, 88,000 individuals, I have received a report of only 18.3 % participating in the walkout. As such, I feel the crisis will be resolved very soon."

To a question regarding the illegal campaign practice, the Minister of Justice Kim Jung-Gil stated, "For the illegal campaign practice during the April 13 election, 19 members are of the ruling party, 15 members of the opposition, and 17 members of the ULD" have been indicted. The Minister pledged to remain impartial in their investigation and will measure out stern penalties strictly according to the law.

As for the abolition of the National Security Law, Prime Minister made it known that, "Such question must be dealt with a great care and in consideration of actual developments between the North and South Korea as well as the opinions of the people of South Korea."

Yun Seung-Mo ysmo@donga.com