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Role of representatives

China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-05 07:55

It is noticeable that the new crop of deputies to the National People's Congress and new members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee are younger, better educated and from more diverse career backgrounds, and that fewer of them are government officials.

These are positive changes. They are conducive to our national legislature and top political advisory body becoming more energetic, better informed, more representative, and thus more capable and efficient.

They are a logical outcome of the increasingly high hopes the public is placing on the two sessions. People want their representatives to be not only faithful conveyers of their concerns, they want them to present sensible opinions on ways to improve people's livelihoods and the state of the nation.

In the heated discussions taking place, one can see a shared eagerness for constructive interaction. Which is indispensable for the NPC and CPPCC to engage with the people and upgrade their own efficacy.

But better-looking demographics alone will not automatically deliver what is desired. People expect more. Such expectations might mean more pressure. After all, our complex national conditions determine that some changes are extremely difficult to effect, especially when overnight changes are anticipated. But the beauty of constructive interaction lies right there, in the synergy needed in challenging contexts, which is also an inherent advantage of representative democracy.

People will not be bothered if there are different voices heard from the annual sessions of the NPC or CPPCC. Such differences may provide an invaluable reference for making informed decisions. Yet people will be bothered if the participants spend their precious time just parroting what is politically correct.

So it is reassuring to see how hard some NPC deputies have tried to solicit public opinions from their constituencies and come up with well-thought-out proposals. That is an inspiring first step toward the delegates living up to their role as people's representatives.

To take full advantage of our design of representative democracy, and to substantially improve the effectiveness of our legislative institutions, there has to be closer links between the NPC deputies and their constituencies. A keen sense of responsibility for their constituencies will help improve their responsiveness to the public's concerns and thus refine the functioning of the national legislature.

This requires improvements in the systematic arrangements for NPC deputies and CPPCC members to gauge the pulse of their constituencies, which is a political imperative. People are keeping a close eye on the annual sessions as they are demonstrating an increasing interest in how well the representatives perform their roles.

(China Daily 03/05/2013 page9)

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