Butting heads over a billPresident Roh Moo-hyun reiterated his opposition to the incoming administration’s plans for a sweeping restructuring of the government.
He plans to veto the bill to shrink the government if it passes the National Assembly.
Last Tuesday, he had already hinted at the possibility that he might use his veto power.
This time he took away any doubts. In a warning to President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s transition team, he said, “I say in advance that I will require the National Assembly to reconsider [the bill].”
Roh said it is natural for a new government to do its job only after it takes office. Ostensibly, his claim seems to ring true, as he is still the incumbent president and has the right to veto bills he deems inappropriate. But in fact, his statement does not make sense. The government that will be reshuffled is not Roh’s administration, but Lee Myung-bak’s. No matter how little he likes his successor’s government-management philosophy, the outgoing president should not stand in the way of the next leader.
Besides, Lee was elected as the new president because his promise of a “small government” was supported by the Korean people. This is why Roh should not veto the bill.
Still, some of what Roh said was worth hearing. The incoming administration confirmed the government reshuffle bill just 20 days after the creation of the transition team and plans to pass it within one or two weeks. It seems the incoming administration thinks the National Assembly should pass every bill it submits. Has Lee shown any effort to persuade the people and lawmakers through dialogue?
Of course holding a public hearing about it would take some time and might impede the bill from taking effect. This was often the case with previous administrations. However, this does not mean that the team should push ahead without any consideration of public opinion. Efficiency is important, but so is democratic process.
It is not too late.
Lee should begin efforts to persuade the public. His Grand National Party should show more flexibility in negotiations with other parties. The United New Democratic Party should also make efforts to narrow differences over the bill, instead of only pushing its own points.
Roh should also know what he is doing now is damaging his image in the final phase of his term.
This is the time for putting heads together, not butting heads.