[VIEWPOINT]Congrats, mayor; here’s some advice

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[VIEWPOINT]Congrats, mayor; here’s some advice

It is a little belated, but I congratulate you, Oh Se-hoon, on your election as mayor of Seoul. The fact that you were elected by the largest margin of votes in history, although you jumped in the race belatedly, makes me think you are truly a star politician.
You were probably surprised, yourself. No matter how much people hate the present administration, you probably didn’t imagine winning by a landslide like this.
Isn’t public sentiment scary? Confucius said, “Those who follow heaven will survive and those who disobey heaven will be ruined.” The net of heaven may seem loose, but it doesn’t have a hole in it. The heaven I am talking about here is public sentiment.
They say the election depends on the wind and the people’s sympathy.
That was the case this time, too. It is true that the attack on the leader of the Grand National Party, Park Geun-hye, provoked sympathy among people and caused the wind to blow in favor of her party.
However, do not make the mistake of thinking that you got landslide support because people favored the Grand National Party.
In fact, the election this time was not a real election. It was an explosion of rage, like a volcano.
In old times, we would have called it a revolt or uprising of the people. Today, it may be the equivalent of impeachment or a red card against the current administration, which is best known for its self-righteousness, egotism and inabilities.
Never forget that the cold blade of public sentiment can always turn on you and the Grand National Party.
Now the party is over. Forget the image of a fresh politician, which might have been your strongest sales point as a candidate until now. Image is only an illusion. The mayoral tasks cannot be done with an image.
Roll up your sleeves and focus on the affairs of the city with the passion you had when you competed in a triathlon.
I must ask you a few things. First of all, I dare to ask you to study more.
Citizens who watched the televised mayoral debates said of the candidates, “How can they fail to grasp a current situation like that?” You were not an exception.
I looked at your campaign pledges, and saw that you aimed to develop 50 new towns out of the oldfashioned shady areas in the Gangbuk (north of the Han River) area, activate commercial areas of Gangbuk and decrease air pollution to the standard of Tokyo.
If things go as you pledged, Seoul will be a world-class city in four years.
But do you really think that it is possible to build 50 new towns? Citizens have more sophisticated tastes now.
It would be better to find out what the people really want first.
Don’t try to accomplish impossible pledges. Through the manifesto movement that was launched in this election, voters will watch whether or not you accomplish your campaign pledges.
But it is hard to accomplish them 100 percent. Therefore, prioritize them. You have to boldly abandon the pledges that seemed good for the election but impossible to accomplish.
And don’t forget that management is more important than development for Seoul right now.
Learn from former mayor Lee Myung-bak. No matter what people say, he will be remembered as a successful mayor.
His greatest achievement, the Cheonggyecheon restoration project, faced a lot of protests in the beginning.
There were voices of protest from shopkeepers and those who worried over traffic congestion.
However, Mr. Lee pushed the project like a bulldozer, and even the president gave in to his persistent persuasion.
That is it. Promote a project boldly if it is for greater benefit, even if the idea is not popular.
The biggest stress that Seoul citizens have to deal with is traffic congestion.
The traffic-flow eased considerably after the introduction of bus-only lanes in some main streets, but there is still much room for improvement.
Computerizing traffic signal systems and strictly regulating illegal parking alone can help ease traffic congestion a lot. People can’t walk on the pedestrian way properly because motorbikes run on it.
And why are there so many street vendors? If you say that we should be lenient to them because it is hard for them to make a living, Seoul will not be able to become a first-class city.
Work first on small things that have an effect on the lives of people.
If you do so, the people will applaud you four years from now, even if you do not fulfill all your pledges.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Yoo Jae-sik
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