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Politicians incite NIMBY syndrome ahead of general elections

Politicians incite NIMBY syndrome ahead of general elections

Posted April. 03, 2024 07:40,   

Updated April. 03, 2024 07:40


As the April 10 general elections draw near, political candidates are advocating for the suspension of various ongoing public and private projects within their districts to secure votes. In Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province, candidates from both ruling and opposition parties are urging the mayor to halt a data center construction project approved in March 2023, citing persistent constituent protests. Similarly, in Gangdong District, Seoul, plans for a sub-agency of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety are being challenged by candidates from both parties, who insist that the proposed facility, intended for anti-drug efforts, should not be built near elementary schools without the consent of district residents.

Some residents understandably adopt a "Not in My Backyard" mentality, opposing developments near their neighborhoods even when acknowledging their necessity. Korean society has grappled with this syndrome for over 30 years, whether concerning the placement of treatment facilities for radioactive waste or landfills. However, these years have not been wasted; rather, they have allowed us to accumulate knowledge on conflict resolution and technological advancements to mitigate contamination. We have also developed community models and principles prioritizing equitable sharing over concentrated benefits. Therefore, the opportunistic stance taken by candidates in the upcoming general election, which seeks to exploit unfounded fears for votes, deserves rightful criticism.

Goyang residents express concerns about potential electronic waves, noise, and heat island effects stemming from the data center's numerous servers and equipment. The city government asserts that evaluations from 20 different institutes deem the center free from such issues. For instance, in a similar evaluation conducted in Anyang City, electronic wave measurements were negligible outdoors and indoors – 1/10,000 and 1/10, respectively. Election candidates should prioritize understanding the scientific basis behind these assessments and dispelling voter misconceptions. Similarly, in Gangdong District, Seoul, the necessity of a drug treatment and rehabilitation facility underscores the need for informed decision-making. These cases highlight the disappointing level of perception and action among candidates vying for public office.

Korean society has borne the consequences of contentious state and local projects, such as landfill construction in Incheon, a radioactive waste treatment facility in North Jeolla Province, and a thermal power plant in Gyeonggi Province. Inadequate government communication and external interference have exacerbated these conflicts. Early-stage explanations often fell short, fueling misunderstandings. National Assembly lawmakers, pivotal in governing, must discern actions wisely, prioritizing broader perspectives and confronting public resistance when needed. Mature voters can distinguish true leadership.