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[Opinion] ‘M.B. Phone’ Business Hotline

Posted March. 06, 2008 03:05,   


The president’s cell phone rings. “This is Lee Myung-bak,” he answers.

“This is a businessman from Daebul National Industrial Complex. Thanks to the wire burial project, electric poles that blocked transportation are gone. But it’s hard to move ship blocks because of narrow bridges.”

The phone rings again. “This is the president.”

“This is the owner of a small firm. If you cut corporate taxes, I can create more jobs and invest more.”

Yet another call from a businessman overseas comes at 5 a.m. “I was about to wake up. Go ahead and speak, please,” says the president.

“I am on the verge of signing an investment contract with a U.S company. But investment in the Seoul metropolitan area is restricted. If you speed up deregulation in the area, I can create 5,000 jobs.”

These are possible scenarios with the advent of the 24-hour business hotline, dubbed “M.B. Phone,” as pledged by the president. He has promised to directly answer calls day and night. Few businessmen will call the president directly and disregard all other channels, but it is quite a relief for businessmen to phone the president direct to request more measures for investment expansion. For civil servants who regulate business, “M.B. Phone” will be something to be afraid of.

The first hotline began in 1963 between the United States and the Soviet Union, one year after the Cuban missile crisis. The hotline was to prevent a war from breaking out due to mishap, miscalculation or communication failure by opening a direct link between the leaders of the two countries. The Soviet Union later formed hotlines with France and Britain, and the United States made one with China. The two Koreas also have a hotline, and now, the president and businessmen have joined the fray.

President Lee can call business leaders first. Those who receive his call or hear “Let’s work hard together” will be elated. Within a year of the hotline’s opening, I hope the president can hear things from entrepreneurs like “Nineteen of my 20 requests were taken care of immediately and the remaining one will be handled soon. Thanks to you, we are increasing investment and employment.”

Editorial writer Hong Kwon-hee (konihong@donga.com)