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Prime Minister: “Timing Not Ripe for Discussion of Constitutional Reform”

Prime Minister: “Timing Not Ripe for Discussion of Constitutional Reform”

Posted March. 03, 2005 22:28,   


Mentioning the five-year, single-term presidential system as inappropriate and defective, Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan expressed his support on Thursday for a different form of governance such as one that institutes a system of consecutive four-year terms for the president.

At a meeting hosted by the Gwanhun Club on Thursday and held at the Korea Press Center in downtown Seoul, the senior cabinet official unveiled his thoughts on the continuing debate concerning the revision of the constitution circulating through certain political corridors. The Gwanhun Club, headed by Park Jeong-chan, chief editor of the Yonhap News Agency, is a gathering of eminent Korean journalists.

Prime Minister Lee expressed his disapproval, however, of reigniting the debate this year and bringing it into the mainstream of political discussions, citing the possibility of dragging the entire political circle into premature presidential election fever. As the administration enters into its third year, any dispute over amending the constitution will have an overwhelming effect on the political establishment, he said.

The Prime Minister noted that it would not be untimely to revisit the issue after the regional elections, scheduled for the first half of 2006, when each party would commence its campaign for the presidency.

On the construction of the administrative city compound, Mr. Lee did acknowledge the chances of administrative inefficiencies creeping in, and described the need to keep such problems at bay through the shrewd application and usage of information and telecommunication technology as well as transportation systems. He proposed to examine the feasibility of transporting cabinet ministers to Seoul or to the administrative city on Sundays to hold cabinet meetings on Monday mornings.

When reminded of public criticism over the allegedly sloppy background checks performed by the presidential office on nominees for public office, the prime minister revealed plans to seek the consent of the final two or three candidates in delving into their personal information files, including ones that disclose their financial and property status.

Yong-Gwan Jung yongari@donga.com