[EDITORIALS]A hasty, dubious proposal

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[EDITORIALS]A hasty, dubious proposal

President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday suggested a constitutional amendment to adopt a four-year term for the presidency with the possibility that an incumbent could be re-elected. We have to ask a series of questions. Does a four-year term with the possibility of re-election have the support from an overwhelming majority of the people? Can a president whose approval rating stands at some 10 percent propose such an amendment and hope to be persuasive? Is the proposal feasible when it faces resistance from an opposition party that occupies more than one-third of the seats in the National Assembly, precisely the number of seats required to reject the bill? Are there side effects from the debate on the amendment? If it must be done, should it be done sooner rather than later? In fact, the problems of a single five-year term have been obvious for a long time. However, many say that a two-term presidency would carry its own problems and they support a single five-year term.
Some also argue that whether the system works well or not depends more on the individual who is in office than on the system. According to polls, more people reportedly support a four-year presidency with the possibility of two consecutive terms. But still, proponents of the two-term presidency do not outnumber opponents by a large margin.
Even if a majority of the people supported a two-term presidency, the Roh amendment would be difficult for many reasons.
The president called the proposal of the constitutional amendment a “right and a duty.” But he is wrong. Such a proposal is neither a right nor a duty; it is a matter of choice. He does not need to choose it, especially if it is unnecessary or wrong.
We also need to look at the situation in the National Assembly. The governing party cannot even take care of its own internal affairs and is on the verge of disintegration. If such a party pushes for an amendment, will the people be persuaded? The Grand National Party’s presidential hopefuls maintain that they would make the amendment a manifesto pledge in this year’s campaign. Will they?
Our country has been hit by an avalanche of tricky issues. The environment is not right for this amendment, and even though there are many potential side effects, the president has proposed it out of the blue, raising suspicions about his intentions. Any debate on the amendment would consume energy and time when other issues are far more pressing. We cannot afford such a situation. It is wise to postpone this amendment and any debate about its implementation.

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