Listening and creating Cheongchaek
Date: June 5, 2012
Venue: Main Conference Hall, Seosomun Building, Seoul City Hall
The Listening Policy Workshop is a platform through which to share information on the operation of the administration with all departments, bureaus, and policy partners with the goal of identifying problems and seeking solutions through discussion.
As I listened to everyone speak, I heard many good policy ideas. Without such a venue, where else could I listen to such detailed stories by experts or the vivid and painful stories of citizens? Everyone wants more, of course, and they all want to say something, but there are still many who quietly listen and leave. But this is just the beginning. It is through such continuous discussions that policy is created. This workshop was something new for us, and I know it was very difficult for the public servants. Even though you worked hard at your desks before, there was always a gap between your desks and the real world, putting the experts and city’s citizens far out of reach. So, the policies we implemented were inherently incomplete. If you want to make a policy complete and ensure its effectiveness, this is the only way to do it. I believe the public servants of the Seoul Metropolitan Government are realizing this, and learning.
You mentioned the library policy, but this also applies to the policy on people with disabilities and the issue of irregular workers. The related policies were devised by listening to the people working in the field, as well as experts and civic organizations. Once the policies were announced, people complimented me on a job well-done. However, the announcement of a policy is not the end, but another beginning. It brings about new governance, and we must continuously maintain and improve it. The library network was built a while ago, and from what I can see, you (Director Yun) have made an impressive achievement in the establishment of this network.
I will now speak about what I believe to be good administration. Someone commented that there is a lack of feedback. Personally, after a Listening Policy Workshop, I deliver my notes and impressions to my staff as soon as possible, before I forget. I always encourage them to “pass the ball” as soon as possible. If they hold on to it too long, months or years could go by, and they would still have no idea what to do about it. They must follow a different kind of Cheongchaek (Listening Policy). They have to listen to others, report it to their superiors, and receive feedback. This is a part of the process, and it is not done all at once. When a Listening Policy Workshop comes to an end, we do it all over again, this time by ourselves. We talk about whether an idea is feasible or not, and determine which ones are short-term tasks and which are long-term projects. As we must carry out this process, feedback may be delayed. As the gu office chief mentioned, I think that when we are asked about what progress has been made, it is best to reply quickly and say that it is under review. This is better than saying nothing. I hope this creates a system of continuous reporting, from the early and intermediate phases.
I believe the words of CEO Lee Eun-ae were very important. She said that if the discussions were conducted at the grassroots level and the related government officials were summoned to attend, instead of the Seoul Metropolitan Government leading the Listening Policy Workshops, she believes that a greater number of practical and valid ideas would be forthcoming. I was deeply moved when I heard this. It is an excellent idea, and the passion behind it was tangible. So, I have arranged for them to have the use of Eunpyeong Fire Station for such grassroots meetings. I believe that supporting a region with such passionate people is like the beginning of a wild fire on a dry mountain. I believe they will be very successful.
Regarding such “direct democracy,” the process of listening to everyone and coming up with appropriate measures is no easy task, and in a city like Seoul, with a population of 10 million, it may sometimes seem like a waste of time. However, I believe this process is not a mere formality, but an important part of something tangible. We have listened to your words today, and we will make use and improve on them so that we can do a better job in the second half of this year. Thank you.