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Timely is not enough

China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-08 09:14

Three judges in Shanghai have been expelled from the Communist Party of China and another is on probation just days after online allegations emerged that they had been "entertained by young ladies". The prompt manner in which the allegations were investigated is in line with the authorities' promise to have "zero tolerance" for misdeeds by Party members and government employees.

The timely investigation and the punishments meted out to the offenders show the new leadership is prepared to back up its talk of housecleaning with action.

However, some questions have been left unanswered.

Such as, a construction company is alleged to have arranged the banquet and "entertainment" at a local resort for the judges, so have clients or institutions that have dealings with them arranged similar activities before?

The leadership's recent crackdown on misdeeds by those in public office has won applause for its broad scope and responsiveness to allegations of abuse. Yet, punishing misbehaving officials caught in isolated scandals is not the only response the public anticipates.

The lack of a thorough probe into what lies behind these cases may give the impression that the crackdown hits only those wrongdoers discovered by the public, which will shake people's confidence in the central authorities' resolve to fight corruption.

The courts are supposed to be the last line of defense for justice. The Shanghai scandal is worrying not only because it severely undermines the image of judicial employees, but also because it implies corruption is not uncommon in judges and, worse, that the law can be bought.

It is impossible and unrealistic to expect that the environment that has permitted such abuses of power can be eliminated overnight. But that should be the ultimate goal, one that the fight against corruption can hopefully attain sooner rather than later.

The fight is primarily focused on dealing with the symptoms of abuse of power to win time for the elimination of the soil for corruption, according to Wang Qishan, the CPC's top corruption buster. Moreover, efforts must be made to dig down to the roots of every case. That is the way to prepare for the removal of the soil that cultivates corruption and to achieve the final triumph against corruption.

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