Park pushes re­form of sin­gleterm pres­i­dency in S Korea

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SOUTH Korean Pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye yes­ter­day called for con­sti­tu­tional re­forms that could al­low fu­ture pres­i­dents to serve two terms – as she strug­gles with plung­ing pop­u­lar­ity rat­ings and a widen­ing cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

While its con­sti­tu­tion grants enor­mous power to the ex­ec­u­tive, South Korea is one of the only eco­nom­i­cally ad­vanced lib­eral democ­ra­cies to re­strict the pres­i­dency to a sin­gle five-year term, with no pos­si­bil­ity of re-elec­tion.

The limit was set in 1987 as the South tran­si­tioned to democ­racy af­ter decades of mil­i­tary rule, and sought to pre-empt any re­turn to pe­ri­ods of au­thor­i­tar­ian con­trol.

Crit­ics say the cap has out­lived its use and ren­dered the ex­ec­u­tive of­fice per­pet­u­ally un­sta­ble, al­low­ing lit­tle time or mo­ti­va­tion for con­sen­sus build­ing as pres­i­dents push hard on legacy is­sues with no con­cern about re-elec­tion.

Dur­ing a tele­vised par­lia­men­tary ad­dress yes­ter­day, Ms Park called the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tion out­dated and said the gov­ern­ment should be­gin dis­cus­sion to lay the ground­work for its re­form.

“The con­sti­tu­tional five-year sin­gle term pres­i­dency may have been ap­pro­pri­ate in the past dur­ing democrati­sa­tion,” Ms Park told law­mak­ers. “But now it has turned into a jacket that does not fit.”

With­out men­tion­ing a spe­cific agenda, Ms Park said she would set up a com­mit­tee to push through a con­sti­tu­tional re­vi­sion be­fore the end of her term in early 2018.

Her pres­i­den­tial of­fice stressed that there was no pos­si­bil­ity of Ms Park run­ning for a sec­ond term.

The pro­posal was some­thing of an about-turn for Ms Park, who had pre­vi­ously la­belled op­po­si­tion calls for con­sti­tu­tional re­form as a “black hole” that would paral­yse the gov­ern­ment.

Op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers ques­tioned whether the pres­i­dent was look­ing for a high-pro­file is­sue that would de­flect at­ten­tion away from an on­go­ing cor­rup­tion probe that threat­ens to taint the fi­nal year of her ad­min­is­tra­tion.

South Korean prose­cu­tors are cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing two of Ms Park’s close aides over al­le­ga­tions that they lever­aged their re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent to strong-arm con­glom­er­ates into multi-mil­lion-dol­lar do­na­tions to two non-profit foun­da­tions.

South Korean me­dia re­ports have sug­gested the foun­da­tions were set up to fi­nance Ms Park’s ac­tiv­i­ties af­ter she leaves of­fice. – IS­RAEL’S air force hit a Ha­mas post in the Gaza Strip yes­ter­day af­ter a rocket was fired from the Pales­tinian en­clave to­ward Is­rael, the mil­i­tary said.

“A rocket was fired at south­ern Is­rael from the Gaza Strip,” an army state­ment said, but “no rock­ets hit Is­raeli ter­ri­tory”.

Is­raeli pub­lic ra­dio said it was be­lieved the rocket fell short and landed within Gaza, which is run by Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas.

“In re­sponse to the at­tack Is­rael Air Force air­craft tar­get­ted a Ha­mas mil­i­tary post in the north­ern Gaza Strip,” the army said.

Ha­mas of­fi­cials said there were no ca­su­al­ties in the at­tack on the post, at Beit Ha­noun, near the bor­der with Is­rael.

Is­rael and Pales­tinian mil­i­tants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and there are fre­quent flare-ups along the bor­der.

Rocket fire from Gaza usu­ally leads to re­tal­ia­tory strikes by Is­rael. –

Photo: EPA

Leon Si­gal says North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram dom­i­nated the talks.

Photo: AFP

Park Geun-hye says the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tion is out­dated.

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