[Letters] Cabinet meetings in local cities for social unityPresident-elect Park Geun-hye vowed to end the cycle of conflict and division that has dogged the nation for a half-century by setting national agenda and direction toward unbiased recruitment and social unity. There could be many ways to act out the promise. I suggest the new government hold cabinet meetings away from the capital as a way to accelerate social unity.
The president-elect represented a constituency in a southern region before and should know the biggest challenge for a local government is addressing regional needs and pushing for attention and support from the central government. The work is more challenging if the policy needs approval from several government agencies. If the president goes around the local cities, provinces and districts twice a month and hold cabinet meetings, she and her government could send the message to the people and local areas that it is a partner rather than a commander in governance.
The high-handed and aloof administrative attitude toward local governments could also change. Ministers and vice ministers could examine the problems and needs of the local and rural areas more closely and have more opportunity to talk with local government officials and figures than before if they frequent and stay in local areas for cabinet meeting for a couple of days. They also could hear fresh policy ideas and meet new talents to apply or recruit them, which would be in fact the best demonstration of fair recruitment.
President Park Chung Hee in 1967 presided a cabinet meeting in Mokpo, South Jeolla, to help the ruling party candidate vie better against opposition candidate Kim Dae-jung in latter’s hometown ahead of legislative elections.
The leaders should discuss government affairs in local areas not because of the election but to ease widening discrepancies among the capital, urban and rural areas. Various government-sponsored conferences, trainings and conventions should also open in local areas as regularly as the annual National Sports Festival.
We live in autonomous, highly wired and digitalized society. But the power is still heavily centralized in the capital and the locals are restrained and isolated from making innovative policies. Decentralization could pave the way for social unity and the first step could be a touring cabinet meeting.
by Kim Sung Director of the Community Development Center