Do you listen to oppositon, Park?

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Do you listen to oppositon, Park?

Prime minister-designate Kim Yong-joon’s withdrawal from nomination is not simply an appointment fiasco. President-elect Park Geun-hye must carefully investigate her style in communication. If she does not change it now, she is bound to err over and over during her term.

She must ask herself if she is ready and open to voices of opposition in her choices of people and policies. Does she listen to other opinions? Are there people around her who tell her she is wrong? What we have seen so far, we are unsure.

The issues around Kim’s sons - exemption from mandatory military service and ownership in vast real estate wealth - could have been verified and answered during scrutiny. But someone should have raised questions about his ability in governance due to his ripe age and hearing problems. Aides of Park are said to have had doubts. But no one challenged her.

Top-down mode is underscored in transition committee meetings. When she speaks, others are busy making notes of her comments. There are no discussions and only lecture from Park. Who among the note-takers can dare to question her? It is why Park’s order - “When I promise (something), you keep them” - came naturally. And this is why no one challenges her about the feasibility of her promise to deliver welfare pledges that would cost 135 trillion won.

We cannot but go back to the Sejong City problem. If she had agreed to President Lee Myung-bak’s proposal to replace the administrative city project with a plan to turn Sejong into a hub for science, technology and innovation business, she could have helped save all the trouble and cost of moving and breaking up the government. If some of her aides dared to tell her otherwise, Sejong City would have had a different future. But few put forward their argument. Saenuri Party is the ruling party that produced a president. But the leadership remains at the periphery.

The president-elect is largely blamed for creating such ambiance that disallows different voices. She shows signs when someone raises objection to her decisions. Her eyes move and send out chilling vibes. Her voice over the phone turns stiff. She no longer asks for the person.

Park does not socialize much and mostly keeps to herself. But she should at least keep her ears open. If she only listened, she could have avoided making the blunder with her first appointment.
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