By Chung Hee-hyung
Rep. Lee Jae-Oh of the ruling Saenuri Party officially declared his bid for the presidential primary, stating that he would “make people happy as a humble president.”
Lee, who has been elected five times to the National Assembly, is a key member of the faction supporting President Lee Myung Bak.
Surrounded by supporters at a press conference held in the garden of the Assembly, Lee announced his vision of a “North-East Asian Community for Peace and Prosperity” and communal liberal democracy.
“These are the goals in my bidding for the 18th presidential election,” he stated.
Lee offered his “Five Points on Grand National Innovation,” with a focus on amending the current constitution mandating a single five-year presidential term to allow two consecutive four-year ones.
“All previous administrations fell under the weight of corruption charges. Under the current imperial presidential system, such abuse of power is inevitable.”
Lee cited the need for the president, as the head of state, to focus only on matters of defense and foreign affairs and turn over other administrative duties to the cabinet.
The lawmaker noted that “we have made some procedural progress in democracy since the 1987 regime,” referring to the compromise made in that year between the military dictatorship and the opposition to hold direct presidential elections. “Due to the structural limitation latent in the single five-year presidential term, however, substantive democratic progress is still missing.”
He said he would not repeat the mistakes of past administrations.
Concerning his plan to change the election cycle, he stated, “Starting in the upcoming 20th parliamentary election, we should coordinate the presidential and parliamentary voting schedule.” He continued that he would finish the constitutional amendment within six months of his inauguration.
As to reorganization of the government and administration, Lee said that he would remake the three-tiered administration into a two-level system of central government and autonomous municipalities. The whole country would be divided into fifty autonomous zones, and four lawmakers would represent each of them.
Lee also touched on the issue of corruption. “I will establish an independent Bureau for Investigating High Officials’ Corruption and forbid pardoning and rehabilitating convicted officials.” As for economic inequality, he said he would “seek a way to promote shared growth between large corporations and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprise) and put the highest priority on creating jobs.”
The writer is a Korea Times intern.