[Letter to the editor]Hotline hopesA hotline cell phone is set to directly connect South Korean President Lee Myung-bak with the country’s leading entrepreneurs. It sounds like real pragmatism, a word he often used in his presidential campaign to appeal to voters.
In fact, Korean presidents used to be like idols who would be worshipped by the people. Such a hotline system has never been adopted before. To the contrary, restrictions on the press, which can make it possible for the public to communicate with the government, have often tightened. In short, authoritarian presidents in the past were served by the Korean people as well as their aides.
President Lee has often said that he would be a president who serves the people, and he asked his ministers to start working early in the morning. He has even dubbed himself and his aides “the people’s servants.”
Lee has also told officials to keep decorations for public events simple. The podium for his inauguration was reported to be a couple of centimeters lower than those for his predecessors.
The hotline between the president and leading businessmen comes from the idea that he would actually serve the country.
He also seems eager to listen to business difficulties and actual situations directly from those involved in the Korean economy. The president has selected nearly 40 CEOs of small- and medium-sized enterprises among a total of 102 business leaders who were lucky enough to be included in the hotline list, demonstrating that his business-friendly policies have not just focused on conglomerates.
With the political conflicts over the Grand National Party’s nominations for the legislative elections, some leaders from industry are likely to take the chance to have their voices heard directly via the hotline.
I hope this hotline will make the Korean economy hot enough to stave off the cold economic headwinds from global financial market jitters and unstable oil prices.
Furthermore, I wish Koreans would pursue direct and practical communication with each other, and help the nation escape from its image as an authoritarian and conservative Asian country.
Joan Cho, Intercom Convention Services, Seoul