The great noncommunicatorThe Lee Myung-bak administration turned two years old yesterday, which means it’s almost halfway into its five-year term.
But President Lee’s political birthday was just an ordinary day. He nixed the idea of holding a press conference, saying he would express his thoughts in meetings with government representatives and via his regular radio address. He opened an account on me2DAY, a Twitter-esque social network, under the ID “Blue Roof” to communicate with the younger demographic.
Of course, there is no need for the president to hype the second year in his term. But there appears to be a problem with the president’s method of communicating with the people.
He may argue he has made 35 radio addresses since taking office. But this is just a one-sided form of communication. He appeared in TV debates three times, but stuck to scripted questions and answers. Short text-based posts on the Internet will not do more than simply publicize and propagate government policies.
The only time the president has held a press conference was on Sept. 30 last year to hype the country’s hosting of the G-20 conference. The press conference was limited to questions on the G-20 meeting and denied any on sensitive issues like Sejong City.
We cannot understand how a head of state can be so press-shy and poor at communicating.
The ruling Grand National Party is currently engaged in heated internal discussions over approving new legislation on Sejong City. The president should keep silent lest his view wield implicit pressure.
There are many other issues the public is curious about. There are rumors of an inter-Korean summit within the year, and recent news from North Korea raised concern and alarm.
The government has pledged to create more jobs. Meanwhile, the number of jobless youth remains serious and the side effects of an aging society are worsening.
People would like to know much more about the four rivers project and new city designs. The president should stop sidestepping conversations with the public as there is a lot to talk about.
Communication with the people is pivotal in a democratic society, and the most effective way to do so is a press conference. Even the past military governments did not shy away from meeting with the press.
Power without ears can turn introverted and self-serving. The president does not need a special moment to talk with the people. He should call a press conference right away.
The more he meets with the press, the clearer he will hear the people’s voices.