[EDITORIALS]Good idea, suspect motivesConstitutional revision is looming as a major issue of the presidential election. Chung Mong-joon of National Unity 21 has proposed revising the constitution to pave the way for dividing presidential power between him and Roh Moo-hyun. Lee Hoi-chang of the Grand National Party pledges that he will change the constitution if he is elected.
It is desirable that presidential power be decentralized. The damage done by Korea's imperial presidents, including President Kim Dae-jung, has created a consensus among the people. Mr. Lee and Mr. Roh pledged "to guarantee the prime minister's rights" and to introduce "a system in which the prime minister is responsible for the cabinet." These pledges reflect public sentiment. It can be understood that Mr. Chung proposed "division of presidential power" as a device to prevent the concentration of power.
However, because of its timing, his proposal can be misunderstood as a proposal for him and Mr. Roh to share and wield power. Mr. Chung can also be blamed for raising an important national issue at a time when the election is imminent and trying to make use of it strategically. Although Mr. Chung has supported the division of power for a long time and included it in his campaign manifesto, coordinating the policy with Mr. Roh raises suspicions of underlying intentions.
The Roh-Chung alliance is one of a liberal and a conservative, as was the "DJP" coalition of President Kim and Kim Jong-pil of the United Liberal Democrats. The DJP coalition proved to be nothing but divided power to share benefits. People remember how the crippled government worked under the DJP coalition. Their suspicions grow as the Roh-Chung alliance, which has far fewer seats than needed for constitutional revision, pledges to amend it. They talk of doing it in 2004, but the precedent of the DJP alliance, which failed to stick to its political schedule, adds suspicion. When the cause is noble but the motive suspect, good results do not follow. Using the constitution to divide power between interested parties should not occur.