Weathermen say it will be another long, hot summer, putting officials onto emergency alert to prevent possible power blackouts.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has come up with the freshest ― and boldest ― idea so far to combat excess use of electricity to power air conditioning units. Employees at the metropolitan government can work in shorts and sandals in offices as long as they are not receiving visitors or dealing with complaints.
The idea itself is not original but taken from Japan where energy conservation is a national priority after operations were suspended at all 54 of its atomic power plants.
Park’s objective of saving energy equivalent to at least one nuclear power plant’s production is laudable, especially at a time when Korea’s crude imports from Iran are in question. If ``coolbiz” (cool + business) attire can help put all of the nation’s atomic plants at rest like our neighboring country, there is no reason why all government employees should not follow City Hall’s example.
There is of course opposition to the ``too liberal” dress code, particularly from conservatives who fear a downturn in work discipline and the dignity of public officials.
These concerns, especially the first one, are not entirely groundless. What one wears can affect he or she thinks, and loose clothing can loosen mindset. It’s ultimately up to the employees themselves, however, not to let casual become careless. And there are also reports that casual dress boosts creativity, an example being the late Steve Jobs who reportedly enjoyed working in the office wearing sandals. The only problem is the work of civil officials doesn’t require that much creativity.
One can less readily agree with the second reason. Most people know all too well how fully-dressed, dignified-looking government employees have wasted taxpayers’ money, received bribes and pursued many other kinds of irregularities. Dignity does not come from people’s type of clothing but from their personalities.
Park plans to do some catwalk modeling at a fashion show early next month to promote his energy-saving resolve. We have only two requests: shave your legs, and don’t wear socks under your sandals.