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Lawmakers Insist on Adjustment of Terms of the President and Lawmakers

Lawmakers Insist on Adjustment of Terms of the President and Lawmakers

Posted December. 07, 2005 08:32,   


Some lawmakers voiced opinions yesterday stating that it is necessary, in a constitutional amendment, to curtail the terms of both President Roh Moo-hyun and the current lawmakers so that their terms will expire on February 1, 2008 and that the next presidential election and general election will be held concurrently in November 2007.

In a symposium on “Constitutional Amendment and Power Structure Realignment” hosted by the April Meeting held at the Korean Bank Association Hall in Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, yesterday, the main opposition Grand National Party Rep. Kwon Chul-hyun said the aforementioned and proposed that the ruling and opposition parties set up a special committee for a constitutional amendment.

During the symposium, ruling Uri Party lawmaker Min Byung-doo also said, “The current presidential system should be maintained in order to seek an agreement regarding a constitutional amendment from presidential hopefuls,” adding, “If so, the next presidential election should be held as scheduled by changing the presidential system from the current single-term presidency to a four-year election system, and it is necessary to reduce the term of lawmakers so that the expirations of the president and lawmakers’ terms will be able to coincide with each other.”

Plebiscite Should be Held in March 2007-

The two lawmakers cited the following as the reasons for the amending the Constitution: the Constitution only stipulates unification abstractly; fails to deal with the local self-autonomy system, a growing gap between the rich and poor, and the aging society issues; and the terms of the president and lawmakers do not coincide with each other in the Constitution.

They also suggested a phased plan for amending the Constitution, in which a discussion body that consists of non-politicians will begin its activities for reviewing a constitutional amendment starting at the end of this year. The National Assembly will draw up a specific revision on Constitution next year on the basis of the research results conducted by the body, and finally, a plebiscite will be held around March 2007.

Regarding the body that will discuss the constitutional amendment, Kwon proposed setting up a constitutional research committee that consists of constitutional scholars and political scholars under the direct jurisdiction of the National Assembly speaker, while Min suggested setting up a pan-national council for amending the Constitution that people from all walks of life take part in.

Article Pertaining to Territory, North Korea’s Status Should also be Revised-

Regarding the direction in amending the Constitution, Min voiced, “More than half of the public insists that Article 3 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the Republic of Korea’s territory is the Korean peninsula and the attached islands, should be revised,” adding, “A legal regulation that can lay the groundwork for a unified Korea should be drawn up.”

In a research report on a constitutional amendment distributed on the same day, Min insisted on the following: the introduction of the public summon system; introduction of an election system for justices, jury system and civil participatory system; establishment of new regulations on new kinds of social basic rights, including the right of consumers, right of residence, right to enjoy culture, and right pertaining to quality of life; and establishment of new regulations on North Korea’s status.

During the symposium, Lee Eun-young, the head of the ruling Uri Party’s first coordination committee, said, “There are a slew of groups that are reviewing a constitutional amendment on their own within the academic and civil societies,” adding, “I expect these groups to submit their revisions on the Constitution to the National Assembly through civil petitions after the National Assembly regular session ends this year.”

However, Kim Hyeong-jun, a professor of the politics graduate school at Kookmin University, opposed amending the Constitution, saying, “The reason the same faults have been occurred repeatedly in Korea’s political history is not the Constitution but an unskillful management of state affairs and the pre-modern political party structure.”

“Even if the Constitution has some flaws, it is necessary to review whether amending the Constitution should be done at the moment,” said Sohn Hyeok-jae, a professor at Sung Kong Hoe University.

Kang-Myoung Chang tesomiom@donga.com