[EDITORIALS]Heels dug in too farThe Kim Dae-jung administration has been humiliated by the legislature. The National Assembly rejected eight documents, including the statement of revenue and expenditures submitted by the government, citing a lack of compliance with required procedures. The National Assembly referred to the constitution as grounds for its action; the constitution requires the prime minister's signature, but the documents were not signed.
Article 82 of the constitution says, "The acts of the president under law are to be executed in writing, and such documents must be countersigned by the prime minister and the members of the state council concerned." The catch here is that the Budget and Accounts Act sets a deadline for submitting the documents. To meet the deadline, the documents were sent by registered mail leaving the space for the prime minister's signature blank; the legislature rejected the submission. This is the first time in our history that an administration was put to shame because of the absence of a countersignature.
The administration asked for such disgrace by persisting in its own way of governance. Even after his second prime minister designee was rejected last week, President Kim did not appoint a proxy for the prime minister. Mr. Kim persisted in his logic that the economic deputy prime minister should become the acting prime minister under the Government Organization Act only if the prime minister's post is vacant because of an unforeseen accident. The Assembly's rejection of his two candidates was no accident, the president maintains, so the prime minister's post must be left vacant until the president chooses a new candidate.
But most academics say the president's decision to have a designee working as prime minister is unconstitutional. Many also say the rejection of a candidate by the Assembly should be treated as an "accident" under the organization act. The president disagrees, and that obstinacy seems to be an expression of pique at the Assembly, not a strict interpretation of the law.
So the administrative vacuum that we feared has come to pass. The president must name a temporary prime minister in order to settle the problem; that is more important than finding a new candidate, and is the first necessary step to put our national politics back into some semblance of order.