(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on May 23)

The government has changed its position on "issuing driver's license to senior citizens" in just a day. On Tuesday, it announced a plan to issue the license to them with strings attached, but on the following day, it changed "senior citizens" to "people with high risks." The flip took place on the same day the government apologized for its decision to withdraw a plan to mandate overseas goods purchased via ecommerce platforms to go through the Korea Certification, citing safety concerns. The original plan to reduce deaths from traffic accidents included a consideration of issuing driver's license to senior citizens after assessing their ability to drive a car. The government didn't specify the age limit for the elderly, but normally, it starts from 65. The scheme is far from reality where many citizens above 65 are living a healthy and vibrant life. The conditions the government attached also provoke strong doubts over their efficacy, as they included a ban on driving on highways and at night, as well as a speed limit. In that case, how can senior citizens who still support their parents or live in a remote area drive their car? Such policy flip-flops under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration are nothing new. The government repeatedly reversed its position on a number of plans to allow five-year-olds to enter primary schools, cut the government's R andD budget by 14.8 percent, and expand tax exemptions for chip production. Such inconsistency outright damages public trust in the government. Policies having a far-reaching effect on people's daily lives demand the process of canvassing public opinion to reach consensus. But the government skipped it. It announced the plan for conditional issuance of driver's license to senior citizens even while government-assigned research was going on. The fundamental reason for such half-baked policies is government employees' sheer ignorance of public opinion. The relocation of the administrative capital to Sejong City may have made it difficult for them to meet diverse citizen s to draw up policies. But they nevertheless should have contacted mayors, business leaders and civic groups to seek their views on government policies. Some civil servants criticize the strict Anti-Solicitation and Graft Act for making it difficult for them to meet with citizens over a meal. But that's a lame excuse. Public officials must find other ways to communicate. The presidential office plans to hold a high-level meeting between the office and ministries on a weekly basis to exchange their views. But the government must first put more focus on the demand side. Otherwise, such fiascoes will be repeated over and over.