Dili, July 14th, 2020: His Excellency the Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, intends to synchronize the National Program for Village Development (PNDS) with the South Korea program Saemaul Undong, which has been hugely successful in lifting the Korean people out of poverty, and which has been recognized by the UN and international organizations, being today an example that many countries in the world choose to follow.
The Executive Head reiterated this wishes at a recent meeting with the South Korean Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Lee Chin-bun, held at the Government Palace.
Following this issue, this Monday, the Head of Government invited the former-Secretary of State for the Gender Equality of the V Constitutional Government, Idelta Maria Rodrigues, to the Government Palace, for a first analysis on how to develop an integrated program, to synchronize the PNDS and Saemaul Undong, accordingly to the reality of Timor Leste, in order to be able to implement, in the country, this iconic program, which helped lift South Korea out of poverty and allowed it to become a country with a strong economy.
“His Excellency the Prime Minister invited me, as a Timorese who studied this matter, to come and analyse the model of rural development in Timor Leste. This model of rural development in South Korea, called “ Saemaul Undong”, has been used by many countries and now recognized in the world”. His Excellency invited me to prepare a model applicable to Timor Leste. My presence here today was to share information and start the preparation of an integrated plan that will be presented, then, to the Government”, explained the former Secretary of State for Gender Equality, after the meeting with Prime Minister.
In addition, she added that she will meet and discuss with relevant stakeholders and the Ministry of State Administration, to achieve an integrated program model, adapted to the reality of Timor Leste, before coming back and present it to the Prime Minister.
In 2016, the Government of Timor-Leste signed an agreement with the Government of South Korea for the implementation of the “Saemaul Undong” program. To begin, a pilot program was implemented in the municipality of Lautém, with great success. For this reason, the Head of Government intends to transform the PNDS, following the model of Saemaul Undong, and put it into practice throughout the territory, in rural areas, to help local communities economic growth.
Based on the observation of the Head of Government, the PNDS is a good project and has had a good appreciation from the community and the local leaders, but it is necessary to change the policy regarding to the implementation mechanisms. “Instead of giving the fish, we need to teach how to fish!”. For this reason, the Head of Government intends to align the PNDS with the “Saemaul Undong” model.
In its turn, the South Korean Government, through its embassy in Timor-Leste, had already presented the “Saemaul Undong” program to the Government of Timor-Leste, so that the Timorese Government could adapt it to the Timorese reality, since the social problems are identical in both countries.
The South Korean ambassador said that the time has come to the Timorese Government to change its policy, to stop giving things away for free and start to mentalize the citizens, aiming for a service of self-help and collaboration between the local communities, in order to strengthen household economy. If the Timorese Government does not change this policy, Timor-Leste will face problems in the future.
History of “Saemaul Undong” program
In the 1970-1980s, the Korean Government implemented a typical rural development program called “Saemaul Undong”. This program, an initiative of the President Park Chung Hee, aimed to lift Korean population out from the poverty where they were, due to the civil war between North and South Korea.
This program was recognized by the UN and by other international organizations as the existing most effective development model, because data showed that the program had great success in reducing the poverty, in Korean villages, so it had been imitated by several countries in the world.
Saemaul Undong is a self-help program, implemented through three ways; mindset change, improvement living condition and income development program. This program is led by two people in each village, a man and a woman, and the Central Government also establishes a system of “rewards and punishments” for the villages that are actually running the program. The successful villages receive support from the Government, while the villages that fail to implement will be punished and will not receive support from the Government. Thus, the villages that fail, strive to improve and follow the example their counterparts whose program have been successful. END/PMO