[EDITORIALS]Time for everyone to move onPresident Roh Moo-hyun has had his presidential rights restored now that the Constitutional Court has decided to dismiss the impeachment bill approved by the National Assembly. This is not a simple reinstatement of a presidency but the opening of the second period of President Roh’s term.
Now, it’s time for Mr. Roh, politicians and the people to accept the final verdict of the court humbly and stop debating the pros and cons of the impeachment.
It is meaningless to debate who is the winner or the loser, whether Mr. Roh was defeated because the court recognized that he violated some legal provisions, or whether Mr. Roh won because the impeachment bill was dismissed.
In the past two months, we have suffered from anxiety, and the nation was divided. The damage has left wounds. In light of this, it is shameful for anyone to talk about gaining a victory or suffering a defeat after the court’s decision.
The root cause of the impeachment stemmed from the conflict between the president and the opposition parties. The rivalry between them and the politics of obstinacy went to extremes, which resulted in the first-ever impeachment of the president.
It was Mr. Roh who provided the cause. Therefore, it is necessary that Mr. Roh show self-reflection and modesty.
The president must first make up his mind to respect the Assembly and the opposition, and implement politics of coexistence. Then we can harness the energy of the nation for our future.
During the first year of his presidency, the majority of the Assembly seats were taken by the opposition, so Mr. Roh could complain that the opposition pulled his leg. But the legislative elections have changed that. If Mr. Roh and the ruling party ignore the voice of the opposition, the lessons we learned during the impeachment will have been in vain.
The ruling also demanded modesty from Mr. Roh, pointing out that he repeatedly violated his duty to stay neutral in elections and deserted his responsibility to observe the constitution by proposing a national referendum on his performance.
Mr. Roh clearly violated the law, the court said, but the violations weren’t so serious as to endanger a free democratic system and merit an impeachment.
Among the particular violations the court pointed out, we believe there are two major parts to which Mr. Roh must pay special attention.
First, Mr. Roh must heed the warning from the court, which said that even minor remarks by the president that call into question his willingness to observe the law have a massive effect on the people’s awareness and their will to observe the law.
Second, the court said, “The president’s rights and political authority are endowed upon him by the constitution, so a president that is negligent of the constitution is denying his own authority and power.” In referring to the president’s responsibility, the court emphasized that the president must do his best to protect democracy and secure a free democratic order, and he must, as a symbolic figure representing the rule of law, strongly respond to unconstitutional and illegal actions in order to implement the rule of law.
If Mr. Roh can abide by these two principles, we believe he will be able to successfully complete the remainder of his presidential term.
After the verdict, both the Grand National Party and the Millennium Democratic Party released statements saying that they would abide by the court’s final verdict. Grand National Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye’s apology to the people for causing them uncertainty and worry was also appropriate.
Although many civic groups and activists are expected to have varied opinions about the court’s decision, they should respect the final verdict because it has been decided through a process that is laid out in the constitution. Only then will we be able to proudly state that the country has taken a step forward in democracy and governing according to the law.
We hope Mr. Roh accepts the mistakes that the court pointed out yesterday and that his address to the people today will express that he was responsible for these violations that led to his impeachment.
We also hope he will offer a sincere apology to the public for making them go through such a difficult time. We wish to see changes in his policies so that improving the economy and caring for the well-being of the Korean people become the top priorities.