Politics of communication

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Politics of communication

The nominations of several senior secretaries to the office of the president hints at some changes in Lee Myung-bak’s governance style.

It’s too early to tell for sure, but we expect that the nominations will help solve Lee’s communication problem, which has been singled out as the biggest obstacle in his presidency.

So far, Lee has distanced himself from the National Assembly and turned his back on politics. From the perspective of a businessman who values efficiency, democratic procedures at the National Assembly may seem very inefficient. Lee might also regard the political establishment as a source of corruption that is bogged down by party interests and political conspiracies.

But public sentiment is a difficult beast to tame, and it could easily bite you if handled incorrectly. At the same time, it’s important to note that the majority cannot decide everything, as democracy requires respect for minorities as well as dialogue and compromise. In that sense, the Lee administration should take a considerable portion of responsibility for the irregular, abnormal operation of the National Assembly.

Chung Jin-suk, who was nominated as the new senior secretary for political affairs, started his career as a political reporter and became a three-term lawmaker. He understands how the political system works.

Furthermore, coming from Gongju, South Chungcheong, he voted against the government-led Sejong City revision bill and maintains a wide circle of acquaintances. If he works in conjunction with Im Tae-hee, the new chief of staff-designate, he can win the backing of the people in Chungcheong and connect with the pro-Park Geun-hye faction in the ruling Grand National Party as well as the Chungcheong-based Liberty Forward Party.

Chung’s most urgent task is to foster harmony within the party, which is split between pro-Lee and pro-Park groups. The intra-party division hampered the Lee administration’s signature projects, such as the Sejong City revision and the four rivers restoration project. Such confrontations portend further turmoil in the latter part of Lee’s presidency. The GNP’s relationship with opposition parties has been problematic, as the party has been forcefully pushing ahead with plans by exploiting its majority status. That eventually led to an endless confrontation within the party. Chung’s job is to resolve those problems.

Regarding the nomination of Park In-joo as senior secretary for social integration, some people worry about his regional and educational background and his career.

But with a wide ideological spectrum, we hope he will deliver the voices of everyday people to the president as effectively as possible.
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