Changing the way of governance
President Park Geun-hye tried out a few new things at a recent senior secretariat meeting. First of all, she presided over the meeting in the secretarial building instead of the main building of the Blue House complex where her office is located. The secretarial building, where most presidential staff work, is about a five-minute walk from the president’s main office. It was the first time the president has made a trip down to the staff building to convene a meeting.
The meeting room in the secretarial building is less spacious, which meant the president had to sit closer to her aides. Yoon Doo-hyun, the senior secretary for public relations, said the president plans to hold more meetings in the building. The president should not only visit the office of her secretaries for official meetings, but also for regular discussions on state affairs.
We have repeatedly said that the presidential office complex should be renovated. It is unnatural and inefficient for the presidential office to be located so far from the rest of her staff. The less space between the president and her aides, the better communication will be.
For frequent and easy rapport with the staff, the president should make herself available to them at all times. Her office should be near those of the rest of her staff. Reorganization is essential to saving the president from mounting criticism that she is out of touch with the public.
The president said in the meeting with her aides that it was necessary for the government to come up with measures to ease confusion and troubles for taxpayers in their year-end settlements. She said the minutes of discussions in presidential meetings should be released so that the public knows what policies and state affairs they are studying. Her comment suggests that she is aware of public complaints about her lack of communication.
But the problems with communication cannot be solved through publicizing presidential meetings. The president, cabinet members, secretaries, and special advisers have to keep up dialogue on a regular basis. They must not just rely on telecommunications, but sit face-to-face and discuss issues in-depth. Only then will the public believe that a policy has been well thought out. The president should move her office and show that she is intent on changing her way of governance.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 27, Page 30