[FORUM]Business-minded governmentWhat could be the biggest reason that makes us worry about a new venture? It is that the conviction of the leader is shaky. When there is no knowing what he is talking about, the world becomes noisy. Sighs follow that we chose a wrong person or met with a wrong master.
But nothing is more exciting than a new attempt, although it makes us afraid. But it holds true when the leader has a definite goal and seems to have the ability to get across the essence of the policy.
Looking back on the former Korean national soccer coach Guus Hiddink’s success in the World Cup after he underwent the trial of being cynically called “five to zero,” the scores he lost by in two warm-up matches, we praise him for displaying the capability of a chief executive officer. Where did Mr. Hiddink’s power come from?
Keeping his position firmly, he had the full authority to lead the team toward victory. We often forget that the power of a chief executive officer, which the people entrusted to him, yielded tremendous results.
It is not clear yet how much power will be given to the Nobel Prize winner Robert B. Laughlin, who was recently appointed president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
He will clash with the scientific and educational communities, which are the most conservative in Korea. Attention is focused on his efforts to renovate our country’s crisis-ridden science and engineering education program. Many science students are sending e-mails to him with suggestions. They have expectations that they can communicate with the foreign president, who said, “I will strengthen the support for adventurous research.”
Chin Dae-je, the CEO-style minister of information and communication, whom the “participatory” government hired, is not hesitant to introduce market elements into the administration while overcoming different kinds of hardships than the ones Hiddink faced at first.
He made a team system according to the ministries’ main business lines. He also established the position of strategic planning officer who maps out the future of the information and communication industry and checks business performance. He defines the people and businesses as customers. He believes that the government should be customer-oriented.
He formulates, reviews, and discusses policies from the perspective of customers. He has the strong point that when he was a chief executive officer of a large company, he thoroughly learned how to pay great attention to customers. He does not stop transplanting corporate culture to the government in order to move the focus of administration from budget input to performance.
He does not forget that a democratic government exists to serve the people.
When an economic and social consensus was reached a while ago on the controversy over the mode of digital television transmission, which dragged on tediously for the past four years, the people’s evaluation of his achievement became different. The conflict over this controversy could be overcome by his strategy of building trust with concerned parties and of persuasion armored with economic and technological expertise.
Behind all the policy suggestions submitted to the government were hidden ideologies. Alternative suggestions were also insufficient. His discussions with customers in the field were quite effective.
Given the Greek etymology of “government,” which means “set the direction,” the Ministry of Infor-mation and Communication is playing the role of a government which shows the proper direction. Whether the policy of “increasing per capita national income to $20,000 through information and technology strategy” is set toward the right direction will be discovered before much longer.
The Ministry of Information and Communication is moving from the edge of the administration toward the center.
It is hard to tell for sure if Mr. Chin’s practical policy can be carried out continuously at the present speed. Pragmatists at the Blue House and economic ministries seem to stand a step back or feel low-spirited.
The success or failure of Mr. Chin depends on whether the “market-friendly” president will support his policy and how much the president will trust him and give authority to him.
* The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Choi Chul-ju