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Dynamic Lawmaker calls for more efforts to promote science technology Following his appointment as the first chairman of the Science Technology Special Committee by the Uri Party in late June, Assemblyman Hong Chang-sun (http://www.cshong. or.kr) feels so strongly about science technology that he said he would even be willing to wear a headband proclaiming 'Science & Technology.'
In today's knowledge society, amid unlimited global competition, science technology power is directly related to a nation's competitiveness, according to Hong. In such circumstances, the assemblyman pointed out that there are several pending science technology-associated questions that political circles should be seriously dealing with, such as human resource supply and demand in science and engineering and identifying next-generation growth engines.
Nevertheless, he explained that it is becoming very difficult to make an issue of science technology-related matters in the National Assembly, since a number of people are preoccupied with ongoing political problems and disputes. Regarding the progress of the Daedeok R&D special zone, Hong stressed that it would be difficult for Korea to become an advanced country if this newly-created R&D special zone is not a success.
Seeking ways to support the Daedeok R&D special zone, Hong said that the Uri Party has set up a subcommittee for supporting the Daedeok R&D special zone and is planning to hold a round-table conference at the end of August in Daedeok regarding the best methods for developing the special zone Hong went on to say that as a lawmaker he has been promoting parliamentary political activity for the development of the nation's science technology and he plans to continue doing so in the years to come. He added that in this regard, he had been given a heavy responsibility by the Uri Party as the chairman of the Science Technology Special Committee.
It is clear that Hong is full of vigor and determined to make an issue of science technology within the Assembly, emerging within a short period as an ardent science technology 'missionary' of the Assembly. As part of his campaign, he has been holding 'Science Technology Forums' since June, last year, with a view to discussing pending science technology-associated problems and seeking solutions.
During his first year in the national Assembly last year, the lawmaker relates that he has dealt with several important pending issues, but he especially recalls the great efforts he dedicated personally to ensuring the speedy passage of the bill for establishing the Daedeok R&D special zone.
Consequently, Hong expressed his wish that the Daedeok R&D special zone would serve as a solid foundation for the government's aspiration to achieve GDP per capita of US$20,000, adding that he was actively assisting in ensuring the future development and success of the Daedeok R&D Special Zone.
In order for this to happen, it is important not only to secure legalistic or financial backing, but also to select a CEO with outstanding leadership qualities. However he said that he sees it as just as important that entrepreneurs, researchers and professors at Daedeok take the initiative themselves in promoting the development of the special zone.
As the special law for Daedeok R&D Zone went into effect as of July 28, a new era for the Daedeok R&D Zone has now started in full swing. As he was a key player in facilitating the passing of this special law, lawmaker Hong was recently interviewed by the Korea IT Times:
Q.: Could you explain the significance, expectations, and future prospects for the Daedeok R&D Zone
A.: For more than 30 years, Daedeok Science Valley has been Korea's 'Mecca of advanced science and technology,' but in terms of its performance, people have different opinions, giving diverse evaluations of the science valley's actual contribution to the Korean economy. Some people speak highly of its contributions from the positive viewpoint that it has played an important role in the development of advanced science and technology, and also in accumulating and expanding the nation's research capacity. But others are more critical, pointing out that its research performance has been ineffective and achievements have not met our expectations compared with the government's financial investment. In a sense, I think these two views are a good reflection of the reality of the challenges facing Daedeok R&D Zone. So, it would be desirable for us to come to the conclusion that we should recognize its accumulated research capacity while at the same time being fully aware of the need to expand its research achievements, by industrializing and commercializing such accomplishments. In this respect, the passing of the special law for Daedeok R&D Zone was timely and appropriate. Also, it is meaningful in the sense that a legal framework has now been laid as a cornerstone for developing Daedeok Valley into a world-class cluster. Instead of the narrowminded view that this is only a stepping-stone for the development of the Daedeok area, we would rather think that we have laid the best foundation for a high-tech innovation cluster for the Korean economy in the 21st century's knowledge society.
Q.: It is reported that you have taken it upon yourself to act as a science and technology 'missionary' in the National Assembly. In this regard, you have organized the lawmakers' seminar called the 'Sci & Tech Forum.' Could you tell our readers more about this 'Sci & Tech Forum'
A.: As you have said, it is a lawmakers' research organization that was established in July 2004 in order to discuss important impending issues on science and technology and to hammer out solutions for them. As of now, 50 legislators are participating in it as full members, and 200 experts in science technology have also joined in this forum as special members. As soon as I became a member of the National Assembly, the first thing I wanted to do was to set up this forum. Every month the forum holds a seminar, a discussion, a hearing, or a gathering for talks.
Q.: We know that you are also paying much attention to the promotion of Information Technology. Could you give us a brief explanation of your IT-related activities
A.: Last February we organized the 'Digital CEO Summit,' which is composed of about 250 persons, including politicians, government officials and CEOs. This meeting pursued three main objectives: the first was to gather wisdom of experts in the diverse fields to find solutions for various pending issues, the second was to help businessmen read and understand the latest trends of the IT industry, and the third goal was to improve communication and networking among CEOs, legislators, and government officials.