No change without communicationA month has passed since the new Park Geun-hye administration kicked off. But the change she proclaimed is not tangible yet. In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Kim Kwang-doo, head of Park’s think tank National Future Research Institute, said he could not feel the wind of change. He added that it’s unclear what values the new government pursues. President Park should grasp what message her key adviser tried to deliver to her.
With every power shift, the people expect change they can feel in their daily lives. If the change occurs in a positive way, it can turn into energy for national revitalization. To the dismay of many people, however, the new administration has wasted time passing her proposed government reorganization bill and dealing with all the unnecessary noise from her appointments for high-profile posts in the government.
The problem primarily stems from a critical lack of communication as clearly seen in the protracted revision of the government restructuring bill. The Blue House and ruling Saenuri Party ended up conceding to what the opposition demanded. That’s a classic example of the president’s lack of political skill in her drive to start anew.
The fiascoes in her new appointments are an even bigger problem. Eleven candidates for minister and vice minister posts have failed to pass scrutiny at confirmation hearings at the National Assembly. An official from the opposition camp even joked that the president could make a football team out of the dropouts. We wonder where we can find her touted message of grand reconciliation in the presidential campaign. Park is still surrounded by a number of aides who lack communicative and coordinating abilities.
Despite the president’s reiterated insistence on her appointment principle without narrow-mindedness and selfishness, citizens just don’t buy it. A presidential effort to persuade and convince them about her appointments is as important as a pledge to keep her principles. That’s the core of communicative politics. But Park’s score card looks shabby, as does her approval rate, which has been declining.
The public’s patience is growing thin. When an accumulation of individual disappointment leads to a collective demonstration of discontent, the new government will lose a driving force to keep many of the campaign promises which demand public consensus. Amid the ever-growing security threats from North Korea, in particular, the new administration must achieve outcomes strong enough to compensate for all the failures. The short cut is no doubt communication.