Just What Decision Is Coming?

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Just What Decision Is Coming?

During a year-end meeting with journalists, President Kim Dae-jung said he was pondering a big decision for grand harmony among the Korean people. Despite the barrage of conjectures his statement triggered, we see a ray of hope because his comment came at the end of his sincere apology for Korea''s economic difficulties. We hope that the president has the broad vision to break out from the current political stalemate.

There are many rumors drifting out of the political arena. Predominant are those about a merger of the Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats, revision of the constitution and a revived partnership between the president and ULD Honorary President Kim Jong-pil. After Kim Jong-pil made a remark that could be construed as hinting at the restoration of a coalition, MDP Chairman Kim Joong-kwon said that he would push for the revival of a partnership with the ULD. When Kim Joong-kwon said it would be desirable to allow the president to serve a second term and institute a vice presidency, ULD acting President Kim Chong-hoh came forward to concur. Actually, Kim Chong-hoh went a step further when he said, "If the general public has trouble understanding the necessity of constitutional revision for a parliamentary government, we need to examine the introduction of two four-year presidential terms and a vice presidency." In our present chaotic situation, such remarks are out of the ordinary.

We do not want to criticize discussion per se of constitutional revision. Rather, we worry about the hidden intentions politicians would bring to such discussions. Past regimes used constitutional revisions as a way of extending their power, and used political alignments as a way to break stalemates. Is the current regime also studying such a shake-up to tackle a crisis? In particular, Kim Joong-kwon''s words make us suspicious. He said, "Things are difficult because the MDP is a minority in the Assembly." The idea of two political parties with totally different platforms joining forces derives from a willingness to resort to "politics of numbers" despite the voters'' will expressed in election results.

It will not be acceptable if the president''s big decision entails just finessing the current situation. We hope his decision contains ideas to impress the general public with political vision.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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