Park pushes reform of singleterm presidency in S Korea
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During a televised parliamentary address yesterday, Ms Park called the current constitution outdated and said the government should begin discussion to lay the groundwork for its reform.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. –
Leon Sigal says North Korea’s nuclear program dominated the talks.
Park Geun-hye says the current constitution is outdated.