A duty to be neutralThe National Election Commission has judged that President Roh Moo-hyun violated part of the election law and asked him to remain neutral during the presidential election.
The head of state, who is supposed to manage the election in a fair way, has criticized a certain party and its presidential hopefuls.
This is the third time the National Election Commission has ruled that President Roh did not meet his duty of neutrality during an election. In 2004, a warning from the national commission led to an impeachment crisis. Then as now, the National Election Commission and the Constitutional Court judged that the president did not carry out his duty to remain neutral during elections.
But the president ignores the judgments of independent constitutional bodies and has repeated his offenses.
This is a serious abuse of power. The president must restrain himself and respect the judgment of the National Election Commission.
The Blue House threatened to file a petition with the Constitutional Court even before the National Election Commission made its judgment.
But experts agree that the president, who is at the pinnacle of public power, cannot file a petition. In 2004, the Constitutional Court ruled that the president is also a civil servant who has a duty to remain politically neutral during an election. This ruling is the basis for other articles of election law. But the president wants to bring this issue to the Constitutional Court once again and it is unclear what his intention could be.
In 2003, the president had trouble with the National Election Commission on the issue of his duty to remain neutral for an election. In 2004, the Constitutional Court ruled that his duty to remain politically neutral was constitutional. Plenty of time has passed since these occasions. But nothing has been done until now.
It is unacceptable that a leader, who is supposed to protect law and order, commits an illegal act and claims that the law is wrong. It is wrong to break the law first and then, retrospectively, file a petition with the Constitutional Court. This does not make the original illegality legitimate.
The president has a duty to protect and abide by the Constitution and other laws. The most important duty of President Roh, as his term nears its end, is to manage the election campaigns and the election to ensure they are conducted fairly.
When the President does not abide by the election law and tries to justify his illegal acts, he cannot ask other people to abide by the law and cannot manage the election in the right way.
The president must humbly accept the advice of the National Election Commission and maintain neutrality.