Experts call for citizen participation in Constitutional amendment
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Experts call for citizen participation in Constitutional amendment

Let’s delve deeper into the issue of amending
the country’s Constitution. With rival parties still locking horns over
when to hold the vote,… and how to change the power structure — it’s unclear whether
a compromise can be reached in time. For the last of our 3 part series….Kim Min-ji
turned to some experts for their take on how the process should be carried out. With the clock ticking and rival parties still
far apart, it’s unclear whether they’ll come through with a deal. Although the major agenda has been changing
the way power is constitutionally apportioned — some experts say a good start would be
a partial revision,… especially on areas that have a direct impact on people’s lives. “We’re seeing the emergence of an information
generation — meaning there needs to be a recognition of information-related rights. Another key issue in our society is the low
birth rate and the elderly making up a growing section of the population — so there’s a
need for related rights there too. On top of that, after the candlelight protests
last year, people have seen a need for a legal process for recalling lawmakers and those
in top government positions — also, a way for bills to be proposed directly by a majority
of the people.” Some also say the amendment process itself
needs more involvement by the people. “The amendments in the past were usually focused
on increasing the power or extending the term of those already in authority. Now people are better informed and have an
interest in what’s going on. Although its lawmakers that table the bill,
they were elected by the people. Therefore the amendment needs to be for the
people.” Others warn that political parties should
not use the issue to further their political interests, noting that those interests will
change depending on who is in power. Rather, they should consider the needs of
the people and how any changes could shape the next few decades. “Much of the procedure is being handled at
the National Assembly. So, the people aren’t really involved and
are pretty much indifferent. Lawmakers need to do more to bring the people
together and tell them what it is they’re trying to do. The fact is some aspects of the revision concern
those in power — that is to say… they themselves are impacted — so they are reluctant to touch
those parts.” As for when the revision should happen, experts
say it probably shouldn’t take too long, since a great deal of research has already been
done. “Studies have been ongoing for at least twenty
years. It’s been brought up under every administration. Civic groups have done research,… and academics
have also drawn up reports on possible revisions. Lawmakers just need to fine-tune their differences
based on a feasible proposal.” For a referendum to be held in June, a proposal
needs to be tabled no later than mid-March. Eyes will be how rival parties iron out the
sticking points and how much they are willing to yield. Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

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