Fix the Communications Channels

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Fix the Communications Channels

It has been reported that Millennium Democratic Party officials were shocked to find themselves faced with an angry public when they recently visited market places and party district offices in the Seoul metropolitan area in an effort to get closer to the people. Party representative Suh Young-hoon showed surprise when he said, "We guessed there would be some problems but didn''t know it would be this bad." If it took a field trip to wake up the ruling party to the way the people are really feeling these days, we are also surprised at how poor their powers of observation are.

Merchants complained loudly that "times have never been this hard" and asked the government to "do something so we can make a living." Criticism by party district managers was bitter: "At the very least, you owe an apology for getting the country in these straits." "Power struggles among our leadership lead to nothing but internal strife; I can''t even hold my head up in public." Some of the comments were biting: "I wish the president would stop talking about the Nobel Peace Prize." "If even primary schoolers start bad-mouthing the president and the government, something has gone wrong to make the voice of the people not heard." Much of the commentary hits all too close to home.

Why has none of this straight talk made it to the ears of the ruling party leadership before now? A party''s district offices are the nerve endings, so to speak, of its network of intelligence about its constituency. They have frequent contact with the local people and report their findings about public opinion to the central leadership, which then takes this information into consideration in formulating policy. At least, that''s the way politics is supposed to work. Something is fundamentally amiss in the channels of communication when the central leadership has to go to local offices in order to find out what people think.

We wonder on what ruling party officials based their assessments of public opinion up to now? Have they just passed on whatever party loyalists thought the president would like to hear? Visits such as these are little more than a political show. It is better and more effective to activate the party''s official lines of communication.

by Kim Young-bae

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