Thursday, 25 February 2010

Thou shalt nots - for China’s public officials

The Chinese Communist Party’s new anti-corruption code bans 52 practices, which include these five:

# Throw a grand wedding, funeral or similar functions
# Undertake ‘image projects’ to look good
# Pocket public funds or properties
# Accept money or gifts under different names
# Favour family members, or staff members

2 comments:

Guanyu 道 said...

Thou shalt nots - for China’s public officials

Offenders face the wrath of the party as well as prosecution

By Sim Chi Yin, China Correspondent

Highlights of the 52 commandments

The Chinese Communist Party’s new anti-corruption code bans 52 practices, which include these five

# Throw a grand wedding, funeral or similar functions

# Undertake ‘image projects’ to look good

# Pocket public funds or properties

# Accept money or gifts under different names

# Favour family members, or staff members

BEIJING: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has laid down 52 ‘thou shalt nots’ for officials and cadres in a new ethics code, signalling a stepping up of the country’s fight against endemic corruption.

The code - with its 52 rules grouped under eight categories, ranging from nepotism to gratuitous public projects - is touted as a formula for clean government.

It bans, among other things, sweetheart deals, the use of public funds for personal interests, and interference in property development and management. The last appears to be an acknowledgement of widespread unhappiness over land grabs and forced evictions.

Officials are also forbidden from spending excessive amounts of government money on vehicles, receptions, new office buildings, entertainment and travel.

The new code brings together piecemeal bans that have been issued by the central and provincial authorities over the years, and is an update on a similar code rolled out on a trial basis in 1997.

The document, released on Tuesday night through state news agency Xinhua, said that those who violate the party regulations would be ‘severely disciplined’.

It also stated that offenders could also be dealt with under the law, sounding a warning just days before the start of the annual National People’s Congress - China’s Parliament - in Beijing.

Graft remains the top concern among Chinese netizens, online surveys ahead of the parliamentary session show. Public revelations of official graft or abuse of power often trigger online tirades or even street protests.

The country’s top legislature yesterday also began to deliberate changes to the Administrative Supervision Law, aimed at fighting corruption and inefficiencies through closer monitoring of civil servants.

Senior Chinese officials routinely warn that the rot within the ranks is a key threat to the CCP. President Hu Jintao terms it a matter of life and death for the CCP and has made graft-busting a top priority.

The most senior party member to be punished for graft in recent years is Shanghai’s former powerful party boss Chen Liangyu, who was sentenced in 2008 to 18 years in prison for his role in a pension fund scandal.

Last month, former top supreme court judge Huang Songyou was sentenced to life in prison for taking bribes and other graft charges.

To further sharpen the sword in the battle against corruption, the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention and the Ministry of Supervision this week made it a priority to better monitor the expenses of ‘naked officials’ (luo ti guan yuan).

This is a term used colloquially to refer to officials whose family members have moved overseas while they themselves continue to work in China, often holding another country’s visa.

Such officials are seen as most likely to abscond overseas with public funds.

Many of them send their family members overseas, transfer their assets to foreign accounts and then eventually slip out of the country, making it difficult for the Chinese authorities to punish them.

Last month, a new joint taskforce was set up linking 17 government agencies to stem the growing tide of corrupt officials escaping overseas.

As many as 4,000 officials had fled the country with US$50 billion (S$70 billion) in public funds over the last 30 years, official data shows, though experts say the real picture is more likely that at least 10,000 officials had fled the mainland, taking at least US$100 billion.

Guanyu 道 said...

Anti-graft expert Lin Zhe, a professor at the CCP’s Central Party School, told The Straits Times: ‘I don’t think we should discriminate against all officials with family members overseas. But we should have them report their assets regularly and we should not put big government-funded projects in their hands.

‘More and more corrupt officials are being found out. Even they themselves know they can’t hide for long any more. That’s why they’re escaping overseas.’