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Prime minister spearheads power saving campaign in government

Prime minister spearheads power saving campaign in government

Posted June. 15, 2013 04:23,   


Prime Minister Chung Hong-won distributed a hand fan each to ministers and vice ministers at a national policy coordination meeting at the Government Complex Seoul on Friday. He bought 70 fans costing 4,000 won (3 dollars and 50 cents) apiece at a community charity market in front of his residence in Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu in Seoul Thursday. Chung said, “I hope you spend a cool summer using this fan,” and ministers and vice ministers fanned in union, creating a scene that is rare to see.

Chung also presented fans to senior government officials in his office. Upon taking the fan, a senior official said, “It looks like we should now be wary of even using electric fans, let alone air conditioner.”

In his statement to the public on Friday last week, Chung proclaimed a “war against corruptions surrounding nuclear power plants.” Over the past week since, he has displayed an image that is quite different from his generally moderate and gentle look. A government insider said that he “seems like a prosecutor commanding investigation,” referring to his previous occupation (prosecutor).

Up until Thursday last week, the day before Chung made the public statement, government insiders had dispute over whether to use the expression‍ “war against corruption surrounding nuclear power plants.” Chung however insisted on using the term “war.” An aide to Chung said, “The Prime Minister revised the statement three times until 11 p.m. the previous night,” adding that “There was deep agony and dispute.”

Earlier at a national policy coordination meeting on May 31, Chung used the expression‍ a “Grave crime that would anger people of the whole world,” when remarking on corruptions surrounding nuclear power plants. An aide to the Prime Minister said, “Judging that the intensity of expressions were not strong enough after reading a draft statement, he added in person the expression‍ “(grave crime) that would anger people of the whole world.”

Chung is also making all-out efforts to spread the energy saving campaign in the government as well. He does so because he believes the government itself should first make bone-carving endeavors before asking the people to sacrifice.

When working at his office or residence, Chung does not turn on electric light and instead uses natural lighting in recent weeks. He only turns on a single stand lamp. ”Senior officials only wear dress shirts (without wearing jacket) when visiting his office to report,” an aide to the Prime Minister said. “When presiding over meetings in recent weeks, he opens meetings by stating ‘let’s take off jacket.’”

Staff of the general affairs division at the Office for Government Policy Coordination, or Prime Minister’s Secretariat, tour the government buildings every morning to turn off lights near windows. They seek to make the most of sunlight for lighting. They also attached “Save power” stickers on the wall to block staff from turning on lights anew.

“It is unthinkable to use air-conditioning, and even use of electric fans has been strictly banned,” a source at the Prime Minister’s Office said. “Lights are automatically turned off across the entire building every hour after 7 p.m., and employees are recommended to use personal stand lamps when necessary.”

Chung reportedly instructed his staff to “Conduct surprise inspections to check whether the power saving campaign is followed at public organizations, including maintaining indoor temperatures at the recommended level (28 degrees Celsius).” The Office for Government Policy Coordination will conduct surprise inspections jointly with related state agencies twice monthly, and announce results.