Interview with Mr. Rolet Loretan and Prof. Pan Suk Kim during AGPA Conference
You are one of the first proponents of the Asian Group for Public Administration. Could you share with us your considerations behind this idea?
Mr. Loretan: Yes, I think the institute follows regional strategies since 2007, so it’s been 6 years and the idea is to strengthen the presence of IIAS in all the regions of the world. What we wish for is to focus the main topics reinforced in different regions. We have a lot of regional networks such as AGPA in the region and the idea is to further its regional strategy. Today, we already have LAGPA, the Latin American Group for Public Administration, we have AGPA, Asian Group for Public Administration, we have EGPA, the European Group, and we intend to establish a Middle-East Group of Public Administration and an African Group of Public Administration.
Prof. Kim: Yeah. IIAS has been established in 1930, and IIAS has several entities, IASIA, EGPA, and others. In the last 83 years, there was no Asian President, and I am the first Asian President, so I’m very proud of that and also I appreciate the very strong support from Asian countries including China, Japan and many other Asian countries. And during this, we realized that we needed to reach out to more continents and regions. EGPA, European Group for Public Administration was established in 1975, and then there was no other regional group for Public Administration, so we began to create the Latin American Group for Public Administration first and then followed by Asian Group for Public Administration. During this stage, we had the first meeting in Beijing, 2011, and then we had the second meeting in the Maldives, and here in Singapore, we had a third AGPA group meeting, and next year 2014 we move to Indonesia and so on. So this is a rapid development and we really appreciate Prof. Wu Jiang’s leadership, your institute’s strong support and many other friends from China. Thank you very much.
We know IIAS has a history of 80 years. What are the reasons for such a worldwide organization to encourage the development of local groups?
Mr. Loretan: Again, I think I could answer in the same way as for the first question. The IIAS has the mission to improve the Public Administration worldwide, and so to achieve that, I guess we have to address the key issues worldwide and in all of the different regions. We have to share the best practices and we have to tackle the major global problems.
Mr. Rolet Loretan
What do you think is the uniqueness of Asia in the field of Public Administration? Or where do you think lies Asia’s strength?
Mr. Loretan: I think that the key features in Public Administration space in Asia are the legacy of a strong bureaucracy and civil service tradition. This is the first point. And then I think recent reforms are triggered by severe challenges including citizens’ requests for participation. Other strengths of Public Administration to Asia are the local participations, management reforms, and the improvement of public accountability. And this is the last point, the very important one is the co-production of public services by the citizens. It is one of the common challenges we have, not only in Asia, but in other region of the globe, and I would say worldwide.
Compared with other regions, what are the strategic priorities for Asia in the development of Public Administration?
Mr. Loretan: As mentioned, I think co-production is one of the common challenges we have, but we can even define further issues such as building leadership capacities for instance. This is a very important one, followed by the development of management skills and competencies, and then by the improvement of the transparency of public administration and of the public sector regionally, and then obviously the fight against corruption, reinforcing the coordination in the public sector, and last but not least, addressing key social issues such as combating poverty for instance.
Prof. Kim: I think we Asians must realize how important Asia is. In terms of global land size, Asia occupies around 30%, but in terms of population, Asian population is over 60% of the world population, so actually we are the largest group in terms of the world population. So there’re lots of functions and duties we can play. For instance, China has 1.3 billion, followed by India 1.2 billion, and Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Japan, we have many big counties. Then we must work together, cooperate together, and develop ourselves. You know that global competition is becoming very serious, therefore we need more regionalization, we need more Asianization, so in that regard we can play a very important role in networking with each other. So in my view, the top priority would be to establish good governance. Good governance is very important, it’s a popular term, but we must realize that the significance of the establishment of good governance in terms of accountability, transparency, more participation, role of law, three “E’s”, efficiency, equity, effectiveness, and consensus building. I think these are very important areas and we should work together to promote good governance issues.
Would you please suggest some of the problems and challenges facing AGPA ? What are your expectations on AGPA ’s future development?
Mr. Loretan: I think our expectations are to make AGPA a rare level partner. This is the first aspect. And then we want to promote AGPA as a domain actor for improving Public Administration in the region. And finally I would say that, but this is more an internal issue, to define AGPA governance.
Prof. Kim: In Singapore, this is the third meeting, and we will have a meeting in Indonesia next year, so this is just a short development. So in the future, we must promote more membership. In other words, we have to have more quantity first. And if we have a certain number of members, institutions, etc. then we can improve or enhance our quality of work, so I think quality comes from the quantity, so we have to reach out and invite more members from Asian countries, I believe this is the very important task at the moment. Then we can promote more vigorous research, more publications and so on. But that comes later. At the moment, we must expand the membership.
You know AGPA ’s official website was launched in 2011, so in what way do you think we can improve the website?
Mr. Loretan: I think AGPA website has to be connected to IIAS website, in order to reflect the activities of the Asian Group for Public Administration and include all the partners of AGPA in the region. And I would say that the AGPA website should be the window of IIAS in Asia. I think this is a common point. The AGPA website should reflect as well the ongoing discussions concerning the main trends in public sector, in Public Administration in the different Asian countries. And the AGPA website should contribute and enrich the knowledge portal of the website of the Institute.
How to motivate and encourage the members of AGPA Steering Committee to better play their roles in AGPA ?
Mr. Loretan: In my opinion, we should follow a portfolio strategy. I mean, each member of the Steering Committee of AGPA should have tasks, and every year it should report about their achievements relating to his/her tasks. This is the first point. And I would say, the ownership of the AGPA project is very important for the members of the Steering Committee as well. And at least it should contribute to AGPA’s visibility in the region, but all of the world as well.
Prof. Pan Suk Kim
Prof. Kim: I think so far so good, because we have a very good relationship among Steering Committee members, we have a very good Coordinator. Mr. Wu Jiang plays a very important role, and also we have good representatives from Japan and other Asian countries. But I think in the future, we should expand to more members, such as India and other countries. And also I think we have to realize that we have to maintain a very close relationship and understand each other. If we have some conflicts within the Steering Committee that may generate some problems, I think we should understand each other, and promote cooperation. I think as a good team, team spirit is very important, even though national background, social background might be different among the members, but we must realize that we must build up team spirit and move on and then we can develop AGPA very professionally in the future. I do have great expectations for AGPA, because AGPA had a very sound group membership and members from governments, research institutions, training institutions, universities and so on. So I can expect that, since we have very good steering committee members, and we can invite more members, in doing so, things will go very well.
Could you share with us your views on new modes of joint research between AGPA members?
Mr. Loretan: We should follow the models of EGPA, starting by creating AGPA’s permanent study groups. It is the first way to go. And the second way could be to contribute to the other IIAS permanent study groups. This is the second way. And the third one, this is, I guess new for AGPA as well, this is to establish dialogues between the IIAS different regions. You know that EGPA for instance, has already dialogues with North America. This is Transatlantic Dialogue. And then EGPA has dialogue with NISPAcee which is an Eastern
European Group. This is the Transeuropean Dialogue. And then we have the countries of the Mediterranean region, it is the Euro- Mediterranean Dialogue. I can imagine that we could do the same for AGPA.
Could you give us some wishes or some closes for AGPA’s future development? Just say some words to the camera about the best wishes?
Mr. Loretan: We have AGPA just for 3 years. I’m convinced that AGPA is the way to contribute and improve Public Administration in the region. And AGPA is a very important regional group of the Institute. We have a close connection with it. I’m sure with the excellent leadership AGPA has today, that we will achieve our goals, common goals, which is improving Public Administration and the public sector. Thank you. I wish you a very successful conference.
Prof. Kim: I’d like to recognize a few people in the activities of AGPA. First of all, many thanks go to IIAS Director-General Mr. Rolet Loretan. He is very supportive for establishing AGPA. You are our good friend, I’m sure he can play a very important role in the future again. And also I’d like to recognize Mr. Wu Jiang, who is the President of Chinese Academy of Personnel Science. He has been a very important person in IIAS as the senior Vice President at the moment. And also I’d like to recognize the role of Mr. Akira Nakamura. He has been very supportive in creating AGPA as well as the development of IIAS. Of course there are also many other people to mention, but I like to emphasize these three individuals, Mr. Rolet Loretan, Mr. Wu Jiang and Mr. Akira Nakamura. Of course, there are many important people in China, Japan, Korea and other countries. But in the last three years, the three key persons are very supportive for IIAS as well as the development of AGPA. Many thanks.