Oh Se-hoon, will Seoul break down ‘governance’?


27 audits and investigations of private consignment and subsidy projects… Next year’s budget cut by 46.5%
Seoul City “Attempting to rectify bad projects, etc.”

On the afternoon of November 4, 2021, in front of Seoul City Hall, more than 70 representatives and activists from 1170 civic, local and social groups nationwide, including Citizens’ Alliance for Economic Justice, Green Alliance, Village Autonomy Center Federation, YMCA Korea, and more He is holding a press conference criticizing the mayor’s denigration of civic groups and the suspension of budget cuts. Senior Correspondent Yoon Un-sik, Hankyoreh

Six months after the inauguration of Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who returned after 10 years, they are again in conflict with civic groups and the Seoul City Council, which is dominated by the Democratic Party of Korea. Mayor Oh stepped down by himself 10 years ago after clashing with civic groups and the majority of the Democratic Party Congress over free meals. The conflicting topic this time is ‘governance’. NGOs criticize Mayor Oh for “breaking governance.” On the other hand, Mayor Oh counters that “I am not denying governance.” However, what is certain is that governance has become a distant task under the current Oh Se-hoon Seoul system. _editor

“It will be up to the citizens to decide whether the municipal administration has already been privatized and is now being corrected, or whether Mayor Oh will finally privatize the municipal administration at the next election.”

“Regression that denies global flow”

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon started a war against civic groups and the city council. On September 13, 2021, Mayor Oh issued a statement titled ‘Correcting the City of Seoul’, saying, “The barns of Seoul, which are difficult to maintain with citizens’ blood taxes, have been reduced to ATMs exclusively for civic groups.” “Private subsidies for the past 10 years The total amount supported by private trust funds is close to 1 trillion won. We will correct the deeply rooted wrong practices.” ‘Mayor Oh and the Seoul Metropolitan Government are examples of the village community project, where more than half of the labor cost was paid, and for the youth project, a former civic group was appointed as the head of the department and focused on supporting a specific group, and the Social Investment Fund was 28% of the loan amount from 2013 to 2020. claimed to have been lent to the same company. Including these, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is conducting a whopping 27 audits and investigations in relation to private consignment and subsidy projects such as residents’ associations, solar power, social housing, Han River Nodeulseom, youth vitality space, and platform Changdong 61. Mayor Oh Se-hoon’s second attack was budget cuts. On November 1, Mayor Oh announced the Seoul budget for 2022 and announced that the budget for private consignment and subsidy projects had been cut by 83.2 billion won (46.5%) from this year’s 178.8 billion won. Looking at the size of budget cuts by sector, social economy 47%, village community 67%, youth participation 44%, urban regeneration/entrustment 75%, and local autonomy 66%. Transportation Broadcasting (TBS), which broadcasts NGOs strongly opposed it. The ‘Citizen Action Preparatory Committee for the Normalization of Regressive Seoul Government’ (Citizen Action), which consists of 300 civic groups participating in the Seoul project, held a press conference on November 2nd. Lee Han-sol, co-chair of the Preparatory Committee (Chairman of the Korea Social Housing Association), said, “We need to further develop governance by increasing citizen participation, but rather go back to 10 years ago. With Mayor Oh taking power, damage is occurring, such as a reduction in citizen participation and the dismissal of young workers. We will hold a discussion forum to report the problem and respond to next year’s local elections.” The ‘National Citizens, Local and Social Organizations Acting for Citizen Participation and Civil Society Revitalization’ (National Action), a solidarity group that encompasses 1,170 civic groups across the country, also started its activities. They held a press conference on November 4 and said, “This is a serious regression that completely denies the flow of global governance. It is defamation to criticize the entire civil society without disclosing the evidence to support the 1 trillion won claim. Let’s put out all the records and verify them together.” The city of Seoul also clashed with the city council. On November 4th, the city of Seoul summarized and published contents of criticisms of the city of Seoul by Democratic city councilors in relation to the private consignment and subsidy projects during the former mayor Park Won-soon. At the same time, city spokesman Lee Chang-geun criticized the city council head-on, saying, “The logic that it was wrong then and right now is not convincing to citizens.” The city council announced that it would closely review the budget related to civic groups in the budget deliberation of the standing committee and the special budget settlement committee, which will begin in late November. Kim In-ho, chairman of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said, “Mayor Oh was elected in a by-election and his term is short. Changes in city policies should be carried out stably, but the mayor is causing confusion. It’s not appropriate and it’s hard to understand.”

A prelude to the 2022 local elections?

Many experts are critical of the situation caused by Mayor Oh. Ha Seung-soo, co-CEO of Catch Tax Thieves, said, “As the market has changed, we can change the policy direction or the size of the budget. However, it must be a reasonable adjustment, and human rights and labor rights must be respected in the process. Now we have crossed the line,” he said. Many analysts say that the reason for Mayor Oh’s behavior is that he had the local elections in June 2022 in mind. Lee Won-jae, co-chair of the Citizen Action Committee, said, “We are already running an election campaign. They try to frame favorable elections by attacking civic groups by any means and methods. We are even leaking audit results that have not yet been released,” he criticized. A member of the Seoul Metropolitan Government also said, “Elected positions always think about the election. However, even if you are thinking about elections, there must be content in your work. Mayor Oh’s attacks on civic groups and city councils have no context at present. They are fighting an exhausting battle to create an advantageous composition in the election. “It shows no partnership at all with civic groups or parliament.” There is also an opinion that Mayor Oh’s strong antipathy towards civic groups was reflected. At first, Mayor Oh was close to a civic group. From 1992 to 2006, he was active in the Federation of Environmental Movements, and when he was elected mayor of Seoul for the first time in 2006, Choi Yeol, CEO of the Federation of Environmental Movements (currently chairman of the Environment Foundation), was so special that he served as the transition chairperson. However, after taking office as mayor, he had a conflict with civic groups over major policies such as the Han River Renaissance and Design Seoul. In the end, he resigned himself from the mayor position after clashing with civic groups and the majority of the Democratic National Assembly over the issue of free meals. After that, it is known that he had a very negative view of civic groups.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon is showing data on the status of private consignment and subsidy support after announcing a statement on 'The nail that blocks the city's erection' on September 16, 2021.  yunhap news

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon is showing data on the status of private consignment and subsidy support after announcing a statement on ‘The nail that blocks the city’s erection’ on September 16, 2021. yunhap news

“Government is not the exclusive property of progress. Now Mayor Oh sees cooperation as a progressive value and tries to exclude civic groups and private partners. This is a retreat from democracy.” Lee Dong-sik, former co-ordinator of Seoul Metropolitan Government

In this situation, Mayor Oh is criticized the most for his ignorance of governance. This is because Mayor Oh’s words and actions negate the basic governance of a modern democratic country. Governance, which involves citizens and NGOs in policy making and implementation, is widely operated as a complement to the traditional representative democracy system, which consists of a parliament and the executive branch. Kim Eui-young, a professor of political science and diplomacy at Seoul National University, said, “Governance is a universal paradigm today. However, Mayor Oh sees citizens as customers, not subjects. In modern society, citizens are equal partners of civil servants.” Lee Dong-sik, former co-ordinator of Seoul Metropolitan Government, said, “Cooperation (governance) is not the exclusive property of progress. Now Mayor Oh sees cooperation as a progressive value and tries to exclude civic groups and private partners. This is a retreat from democracy,” he said. In response to these criticisms, the Seoul Metropolitan Government explained that it is absolutely not to deny governance itself. Lee Won-mok, director of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Citizens’ Cooperation Bureau, said, “In the past, there were only huge discourses among the governance projects, and there were many cases where they did not have any practical effect. So we’re going to cover the jade. As administrative demands become diversified, we will continue to do what we need to do as a governance business.” “Governance is a global trend and needs to be further developed. However, it is intended to rectify cases where projects or budgets that have not been properly used in the past are being used. We will decide the project and set the budget by reflecting the opinions of the citizens,” he said. Park’s governance policies also had problems. Chang-bok Yoo, a professor at the Graduate School of Social Economics at Sungkonghoe University, who served as an advisor to Seoul Metropolitan Government and the representative of ‘Maeul, a corporation,’ said, “The village community project lacked specificity. In the future, more concrete projects such as social economy, urban regeneration, and village care should be pursued. In addition, the governance project was led by public officials, and there was too much paperwork, and the project had to be shut down every year due to the budget. That has to be improved,” he said. Dr. Hong Soo-jeong (administrative school), who served as the city’s conflict mediator during the time of Mayor Park, also said, “Park’s governance business invested in people, not construction. It was a fundamental approach. However, implementation was difficult and the effect was not tangible. I think that kind of thing is being attacked,” he said.

A friendly attitude is required

Given the current situation, the clash between Mayor Oh and civic groups and city councils is expected to continue until the June 2022 local elections. In that sense, this situation shows that ‘governance’ has already collapsed in the five market system. Dr. Hong Hong said, “For governance, participants must have a willingness to cooperate with each other. However, in current Korean society, many participants are hostile to each other. This is true between political parties as well as between civic groups and public officials. Participants must be friendly with each other with a balance of power. That’s where governance can start.” By Kim Gyu-won, senior staff reporter [email protected]


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