EDITORIAL NOTES

President Park should just halt duties: The Korea Herald

South Korean President Park Geun Hye speaks during an address to the nation, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Nov 29, 2016. She said she was willing to stand down early and would let parliament decide on her fate.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye speaks during an address to the nation, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Nov 29, 2016. She said she was willing to stand down early and would let parliament decide on her fate. PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial on Nov 29, the paper says the sincerity of Ms Park Geun Hye's bid to quit office remains suspect.

Irregularity-ridden President Park Geun Hye remains unblushing as she again rejected citizens' demands of "immediate" resignation in her another public address on Tuesday.

Instead, Park seemingly chose to follow those loyal to her in the ruling Saenuri Party, composed of Suh Chung Won and seven others, who recommended to her to make an "honorary retreat," via constitutional amendments involving slashing her term reportedly.

She asked the National Assembly in the speech to set a timetable for her future exit -- feasibly a few months later from now.

Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House, the official residence of the South Korean head of state) officials and the pro-Park faction said weeks ago that the president would not resign.

They had sarcastically said to the National Assembly: "What about impeaching (Park), instead?"

Their comment is about to become reality, with the opposition parties now set to propose and pass a motion to impeach the incapable leader as between Dec 2 and 9.

 

It has de facto been confirmed that Saenuri and the presidential office were attempting to prevent Park's duties from being suspended, which would happen when the impeachment bill is passed.

However, they did not specify when would be a good time for Park to resign and what an "honorary retreat" refers to.

To persuade angry citizens to some extent, Park and the Saenuri leaders should have promised to step down within one or two weeks before the bill passes through the National Assembly and is handed over to the Constitutional Court.

The sincerity of their remarks appears suspect.

In a similar vein, their colleague Kim Moo Sung was the first lawmaker of the ruling party to publicly raise the necessity of impeaching of Park earlier this month.

Kim, however, stressed that the impeachment process should be sought simultaneously with talks for constitutional amendments.

His remarks suggest that he and others in the ruling party might vote against the impeachment bill unless there is consent from the opposition to start talks for the revision.

He reportedly supports an Assembly-initiated Cabinet system.

It seems that presidential hopeful Ahn Cheol Soo of the runner-up opposition People's Party is considering collaborating with Kim over linking constitutional amendments with passage of the impeachment bill.

Some contenders from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, such as Sohn Hak Kyu and Kim Chong In, who have low approval ratings, are poised to join it, too.

The situation is reminiscent of the historic political manoeuvre 26 years ago, when liberal presidential contender Kim Young Sam engaged in establishing the Democratic Liberal Party as part of a surprising consolidation with then-President Roh Tae Woo, a key member of the 1979 military coup, and minor opposition leader Kim Jong Pil.

As a result, Kim Young Sam beat his longtime liberal rival Kim Dae Jung in the 1992 presidential election.

Political parties and contenders may well embark on operating the tactics and strategies, considering the nation has entered an advanced election mode due to the Park Geun hye scandal.

However, the idea that constitutional revision should be an interlocking device -- or low-key prerequisite -- for an impeachment does not coincide with the month long demands of most citizens.

Demonstrators nationwide have unilaterally demanded Park's quick departure from her post or her impeachment.

They were not calling for constitutional amendments, even though many of them are likely to share the view that the current authority given to the president has yielded a variety of side effects involving corruption.

Furthermore, polls have showed that most of the public prefer the US-style, two-term presidential system, not a parliamentary-driven Cabinet system. Under the latter, voters are banned from directly selecting their leader as is the case in Japan.

It is not an exaggeration to say that such political talks are rampant because the opposition parties have lost several weeks.

The main opposition Democratic Party should have taken the lead in proposing the bill right after Park made another unconvincing second apology in early November by neglecting calls to depart.

There is no more time to be swayed by the political tactics of others.

The significant requisite for impeachment is not talks of amendment but votes from some "sensible" Saenuri lawmakers.

US President-elect Donald Trump is scheduled to take office on Jan 20. There is a crucial need for its defence and trade ally, South Korea, to replace its state leader as soon as possible.

As a disaster, a voting down of the coming impeachment motion would mean that the Assembly is also unwilling to accept the people's demands, which will self-verify its underdeveloped politics by paving the way for the criminal suspect to maintain presidency.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Notes reproduces an editorial from a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers.