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Issue of constitutional revision resurfaces

All News 17:33 June 13, 2016

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- The issue of constitutional revision resurfaced on Monday as National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun publicly raised the need for it, calling it a task "someone must tackle" at some point.

The issue has long been pushed on the back burner as many fear that it would undermine the long-held constitutional order and efforts to focus on more urgent issues such as revitalizing the economy.

"Constitutional amendment is something that someone must tackle," Chung said during his speech marking the opening of the newly elected parliament.

"This is not an issue that we can easily bring up, but it is not an issue either that we can continue to disregard," he added, underscoring that the goal of the constitutional revision should be national integration.

His remarks coincided with a seminar on rewriting the basic law at the assembly where a series of heavyweight politicians such as former Saenuri Party leader Kim Moo-sung and five-term Saenuri Rep. Lee Ju-young participated.

Calls have been lingering for revising the constitution, which was last amended in 1987 following a massive pro-democracy movement to end the decades of rule by military-backed authoritarian governments.

The proponents of the revision have argued that the current constitution does not reflect the social and political changes that have taken place since the last revision nearly three decades ago.

Some of them, in particular, have called for a shift in the current governance structure, where power is concentrated too much on the chief executive, and asserted the need to adopt a four-year, double-term presidency to have a more stable, farsighted policy implementation.

During the seminar, Rep. Lee expressed hopes that a constitutional amendment can happen before next year's presidential election.

"We have one and a half years before the presidential election," he said during his congratulatory remarks. "I have this expectation that if we push for the revision during this period of time and call for a national referendum, we can achieve a history of constitutional revision."

The seminar was arranged by an association of some six non-governmental organizations including the Hansun Foundation led by former Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan.

The government has so far held a cautious stance over the constitutional revision as it could trigger yet another partisan wrangling, which could derail its efforts to maintain political stability and focus on enhancing people's livelihoods.

But some of the ruling party members, including Gyeonggi Province Gov. Nam Kyung-pil, have raised the issue.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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