President criticized for remarks on amendment

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President criticized for remarks on amendment



President Park Geun-hye’s outspoken opposition on Monday against a much talked about amendment to the Constitution faced considerable backlash this week from lawmakers, including some members of the ruling Saenuri Party.

Rep. Moon Hee-sang, chairman of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), criticized President Park’s remarks against the amendment in no uncertain terms.

“President Park Geun-hye said she opposes the ongoing discussion at the Assembly concerning the constitutional amendment and it is very inappropriate,” he said Wednesday in his party’s emergency measure committee meeting. “The president producing the guidelines for the amendment, which follows her producing the guidelines for the special bill on the Sewol ferry, is a dangerous act that threatens parliamentary democracy.”

A 150-day legislative deadlock ended on Sept. 30 with the ruling and opposition parties agreeing on the terms of a special law to investigate the Sewol sinking. The breakthrough also breathed new life into calls to amend the Constitution.

Through the amendment, a group of 152 lawmakers aims to revise the current presidential system to a semi-presidential system based on the one in France, in which the president is elected by universal suffrage and endowed with considerable powers, while the prime minister at the same time heads a cabinet subject to assembly votes of confidence.

They hope to finalize an amendment by the first half of next year, when no significant election is scheduled.

“The National Assembly, which has floated for a long time, has now normalized and now has to concentrate on bills to boost the livelihoods of the people and the economy,” Park said during a meeting on Monday with her senior secretaries at the Blue House. “But if national capacity is dispersed due to matters including the constitutional amendment, it could trigger another black hole in the economy.”

The president, who is currently pushing to boost the local economy and move ahead with her unification imitative, had made her stance against the amendment clear earlier.

During her New Year’s press conference in January, she called an amendment to the Constitution “such a huge issue that it will suck everything like a black hole, preventing [the government] from daring to do anything else.”

Rep. Moon further noted that there are usually opportune moments in which an amendment to the Constitution can be made. If this chance is lost under the Park administration, he said, another may never come again.

“The Blue House is not supposed to become a black hole for parliamentary democracy,” he said, playing on the president’s earlier comments.

Rep. Lee Jae-oh, a senior Saenuri party lawmaker, also lashed out at Park.

“The administration has a five-year term and if it revives the economy this year, won’t it do so the following year?” he said in a radio interview on Tuesday. “The government’s focus on the economy is something that should be ongoing throughout the term.”


BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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