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[Editorial] Roh’s Restoration to Office: Time to Start Anew

[Editorial] Roh’s Restoration to Office: Time to Start Anew

Posted May. 14, 2004 22:36,   


The Constitutional Court has overturned the impeachment motion against President Roh Moo-hyun. Although he will be restored to office, the entire sequence of events has left us with a deep and broad lesson. There is a paradoxical view that the motion proved the maturity of Korean democracy as it did not result in turmoil or a vacuum in the government administration. However, it was an incident that could have not necessarily occurred.

The issue of whether or not the National Assembly has abused its impeachment authority aside, the masses would have not suffered under the double yoke of economic recession and political instability if the head of the state showed prudence in language and deed.

The Verdict Should Be Taken Seriously—

The Constitutional Court ruled that President Roh’s remarks in support of the Uri Party, his remarks to downplay the decision by the National Election Commission, and his proposal to put his presidency to a confidence vote were in breach of law and the Constitution. However, the court held that these violations were enormous enough to constitute cases for impeachment, which would likely wreak havoc on the country by removing the president from office and by halting part of government administration. Therefore, the demand for the opposition parties to express its regret over the impeachment motion is right. If they pushed through the motion as a political stratagem, they should apologize.

However, this does not lessen President Roh’s share of the blame. Anyway, it was he who gave the primary reason for the impeachment drive. In March when the election watchdog ruled some of Roh’s remarks were in violation of election law, the country wanted him to apologize. If he apologized, the situation would have not spilled over into impeachment.

What President Roh should value painstakingly from the ruling is the Court’s lambasting of his deed and speech that made light of the Constitution and law. The president is constitutionally responsible for safeguarding the rule of law and the basic order of liberal democracy.

If the president overlooks them, law and order in society will collapse. The president should fully accept the court’s criticism. Since he took office, concerns have been rampant that the rule of law has begun to eclipse.

He Should Apologize for Confidence Vote Proposal—

The Constitutional Court clearly ruled that President Roh’s proposal for a confidence vote was his failure to safeguard the Constitution. He must apologize for it. He made the public anxious with a proposal that the Constitution does not allow. President Roh hasn’t express a clear position about it. It’s time to put an end to the issue. He must apologize in a way that convinces the public and promises to devote his energy to the government administration in an effort to work off the psychological debt he owes to the country.

Here and now are more critical. The president and the governing party as well as the opposition parties should shake the past away. An issue like this must not be exploited politically. How long would you get entangled in “impeachment politics” at a time when the public is eking out a tough living in the face of the severe economic recession? The president must set an example himself.

Are all the confusion and conflict ultimately due to a combination of the head of the state’s lack of leadership and his reckless deed and speech? If he did not recognize this after surviving the impeachment fever, this country would not have a future. By boldly dividing and distributing tasks and responsibilities, the president must not have his speech and deeds strand the government.

He must prioritize the economy and the improvement of the public livelihood. When the prices of oil and raw material are skyrocketing, investment in plants stands still, and streets are packed with the unemployed, what is your priority? Reform won’t have any meaning if it does not focus on the bread and butter issue.

Of course, reform should be implemented. However, if it needs to be done completely, it needs a clear goal on which national consensus would be built. It needs a concrete program accordingly. The public is tired of an endless series of reform slogans popped up by the presidential office, the ruling party, and the government. If compared to an apartment building, is the reform that they want remodeling or reconstruction? The country finds itself confused. The public is not a guinea pig for their experiment with reform.

The Court’s Overturn is Not Just Acquittal—

The Constitutional Court’s overturn is not just an acquittal for President Roh. It is also a warning that he should make every effort into bringing together the nation, instead of dividing them, to bring about national prosperity. The masses want Present Roh to serve them and not to cater to Nosamo, a national group of his supporters. Whether or not the aftermath of the impeachment fiasco can translate into a new opportunity for turning around the country all depends on President Roh.