[EDITORIALS]Consult first on committeeAt a ceremony celebrating the 58th anniversary of the founding of the nation’s constitution, National Assembly Speaker Lim Chae-jung, who used to be an Uri legislator, presented a proposal for an advisory committee to study the constitution. Such an advisory committee would be the first group to receive a budget to study the constitution since 1987. As civic groups support such a committee, debates on a revision of the constitution are likely to be spurred. Coincidentally, Kim Geun-tae, the chairman of the Uri Party, proposed a revision of the constitution on the same day.
The Grand National Party opposes a revision of the constitution during this administration. The party claims that such a revision is not urgent enough to justify the sharp division between its supporters and opponents. Thus, the proposal by the ruling party has raised a suspicion that it suggested the revision of its own accord without any consideration of the opposition party’s position on the matter. Revision of the constitution is impossible without consensus from the opposition party. The ruling party’s one-sided proposal for an amendment did not involve debate but instead caused controversy and chaos.
Many issues are mentioned a possibles for revision. The two-term presidential system with four years for each term, a system with a president and vice president and even the parliamentary government system have been mentioned as possible futurew changes to the current system. In addition, some people argue that a clause regarding Korea’s territory that defines it as the Korean Peninsula and its islands should be changed, as inter-Korean relations have changed. Each issue has supporters and opponents for its retention or revision.
Regarding a revision of the constitution, the procedure is as important as the contents. Two-thirds of the National Assembly need to approve any change. The system of government, the definition of territory and reunification issues will be difficult and tricky ones to deal with, so debate and agreement are necessary for any revision.
Thus, it was the wrong choice for Mr. Lim to propose forming a committee for the revision of the constitution that will spend national budget funds, without consultation with the opposition parties. If the ruling party wants to amend the constitution, it should first persuade the opposition parties to establish a National Assembly committee to debate the matter.