Moon’s reform bill dies in National Assembly

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Moon’s reform bill dies in National Assembly

President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to amend the Constitution was scuttled on Thursday as opposition parties boycotted a parliamentary vote to pass the controversial motion.

The National Assembly convened a plenary session at 10 a.m. to deal with a constitutional reform bill proposed by Moon in March. Among the amendments is the changing of the current five-year single-term presidency to a four-year presidency with the possibility of re-election.

Only 114 lawmakers from the ruling party attended the session. Immediately after the vote, the speaker declared it void for lack of a quorum. Its passage required approval by more than two-thirds of lawmakers.

In the 288-member parliament, the ruling Democratic Party holds 118 seats, insufficient for a quorum.

“It is very regrettable that the government-proposed motion was scuttled,” Chung Se-kyun, the National Assembly speaker, said after the vote.

Chung called on lawmakers to produce a new bill by next month. “Aspirations for constitutional reform remain intact,” he said. “Most Koreans agree on the need to amend the Constitution. Lawmakers should produce a new bill as soon as possible and put it up for people’s decision.”

The Constitution was last amended in 1987. The latest round of reforms is intended to change the power structure in Korea. There have been calls to revise the current system because too much power is perceived to be concentrated in the presidential office.

Opposition parties have called on Moon to withdraw his bill and threatened to boycott the vote. They claim the government-sponsored motion was drawn up without adequate consultation with the National Assembly.

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