Opposition parties call for resuming constitutional revision debate

By a2017001
  • Published : May 19, 2017 - 11:42
  • Updated : May 19, 2017 - 11:42

Opposition parties on Friday called for the resumption of parliamentary discussions on a constitutional revision, a day after President Moon Jae-in made the first mention of the divisive issue since his election last week.

The parties urged Moon to deliver on his election pledge to hold a referendum on the revision in tandem with local elections slated for June 2018, while stressing the discussions on how to rewrite the decades-old basic law must be led by the National Assembly.

Chung Woo-taik (C), the acting leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks during a meeting with party officials at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 19, 2017. (Yonhap)

During a ceremony to mark the 1980 pro-democracy movement in Gwangju, 350 kilometers south of Seoul, Moon vowed to seek a revision to have the spirits of the historic event enshrined in the Constitution. 

"It is very meaningful that the president expressed his will for the revision early in his presidency," Chung Woo-taik, the acting leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said during a meeting with party officials.

"(Moon's) remarks offered a chance for the political circles to resume full-fledged discussions on the revision," he added.

The legislature launched a special panel in December to discuss the revision of the Constitution, which experts say has failed to embrace social and political changes that have transpired since the 1987 revision designed to limit authoritarian rulers from prolonging their presidencies.

Since its inception, the panel had led the political debate on the revision, but the discussions have been stalled over the past month with all political parties engrossed in their presidential election campaigns.

Kim Dong-cheol, the floor leader of the minor opposition People's Party, also stressed the need to swiftly resume the amendment discussions at the parliamentary panel, saying that the revision would be a bellwether of whether the Moon government will successfully lead the country.

"(The revision) is a work to change how the country is run," he said during a meeting of senior party officials.

"We have to institutionalize 'cooperative governance' through dialogue and communication between the government and the National Assembly, between the ruling and opposition parties, and between the minor and opposition parties," he added.

The debate on the revision has centered on spreading out power that is now concentrated in the president, a point on which many politicians from the ruling and opposition parties alike largely agree. But political circles are split over how to alter the law.

During his campaign, Moon called for changing the current single-term, five-year presidency into a four-year presidency with the possibility for re-election, limited to two terms, with saying that the change would help ensure consistent policy implementation with long-term visions. (Yonhap)