| I have met with many people lately as there are many year-end gatherings. One of the top topics was railway workers` strike. A businessman said, "My feeling is that the Park Geun-hye administration is facing a new challenge while completing the first year of her term in office. I am watching the situation closely to see whether the Park administration can accomplish railway reform that no previous administration was able to and whether it is able to reform state-run corporations, a long-desired state project."
He said that if the issue is well resolved, the public will have confidence in the administration that is pursuing various reform projects. He also expressed concern that if it fails, the public will distrust the government for being long on slogans but short on the ability for implementation. As a matter of fact, the general public do not feel that any of the new administration`s goals, such as welfare, creative economy, social integration and cultural prosperity, has been accomplished. In particular, the public seem to have lost confidence in the administration`s welfare policy.
One university professor said, "I came across former Welfare Minister Chin Young at a recent forum, and he told me he had asked the presidential chief of staff twice for a chance to meet with the president but nothing happened. If what he said was true, I wonder how the president could communicate with the public when she cannot even communicate with her minister."
Many people also talked about controversies over the administration`s disconnect with the public. "I know one of the staff members of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae," a lawyer said. "He told me that when he went to see the president to deliver reports after the close of the office hours, he often found the president working hard, reading reports or checking public opinions on the Internet until late at night. He also said he felt sorry for the president to have the lights dim to save energy and thought he should better assist her." One executive at a large corporation who was listening to us noted, "Reading reports is important but spending some time with her staff is important, too. My chairman sometimes invites his executives to dinner to cheer them up and have candid talks." One former minister said, "It was wrong for the president`s press secretary to talk about being `proudly disconnected.` It is important for presidential aides to defend the president but they should take the initiative in communication between the government and the people by conveying public opinions to the president well." Another figure stated, "The minute you think you can communicate, it is likely that you start to be disconnected. It is not a matter of technical communication. It is important to appoint the right people who can take the leadership in communication." The discussions eventually led to the administration`s failed appointments.
A medical doctor said, "How can the president expect to communicate with the majority of the public after putting a man in his 70s at the forefront. People do not criticize her gerontocracy for nothing. She should appoint younger people in their 50s who are experienced and stable."
People`s expectations and support for the president appear to be solid at least until now. A man running a medium-sized business noted, "I support her for leading a clean government by excluding her family members and relatives. It is the economy that matters. At present, the people`s economy is at its worst. Only Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motors are faring well, while many other big companies such as Woongjin, STX and some construction companies have failed. About half of self-employed people are in a state of near bankruptcy. Opposition parties should accept its defeat in the election, and people with common sense would not agree to what they say. I don`t mean to say the opposition`s faults give excuses to the ruling party and the government. After all, the ruling party in power and the government should take the responsibilities."
Can politics stop giving people stresses and make them happy? I pin my new hope on the government in the New Year.