A plan for mutual victoryThe floor leaders of the six parties in the National Assembly have asked President Roh Moo-hyun to postpone proposing a revision of the Constitution.
They set a deadline for the amendment issue to be passed over to the beginning of the 18th assembly.
However, the government’s response has been disappointing. Moon Jae-in, the Blue House secretary for civil affairs, said that the government is ready to discuss the contents of the revision and the schedule for its debate, only after each party has asked its members if they want a postponement of the matter, proclaimed the amendment as their official position and promised to take responsibility for its enactment. A majority of Koreans oppose revising the Constitution under the current government and the National Assembly unanimously suggested the issue should be postponed. These are sufficient reasons for President Roh to stop pushing the proposal.
This six-party agreement commands support from virtually all politicians. They did not oppose Roh’s proposal without good reason, and they treated the president with respect by granting their discussions due process. However, the Blue House is trying to diminish their agreement by saying that it should be made an official decision and that they should promise to take it to the public for consultation. This is not a polite way to treat the National Assembly, and this kind of behavior will create more conflict between the president and the National Assembly.
A cautious approach must be taken in revising the Constitution because it changes the nation’s basic framework. President Roh proposed a revision that would allow future presidents to serve two four-year terms, but there are a variety of other suggestions, such as the creation of an office of vice president, a parliamentary system and a dual executive system. More consultation is required ― it is unreasonable of the president to push his proposal as if it were flawless.
It is refreshing that the floor leaders said they are willing to make efforts to complete legislation on the national pension fund, the private school law and the law school act. The public is tired of seeing lawmakers fighting each other without good reason. It is heartening that lawmakers, regardless of their party, can reach an agreement now over vital bills related to our livelihood.
Since politicians exerted their political power to propose the postponement of the proposed revision, the president should, for his part, display some leadership. Only then can the president avoid being a lame duck and foster good relations with the National Assembly during the final phase of his term.
Now is the time for the president and politicians to devote their energies to the ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and revision of the national pension fund. If they can find a way to make mutual concessions, everybody will win.