Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

'Naked officials' of corruption

By Wu Yixue (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-13 07:40

One cannot desire to have fish and bear's paw both at the same time, goes an old Chinese saying, implying that a person cannot have the best of both worlds. The proverb applies perfectly to luoguan or "naked officials" in Guangdong province who were recently demoted or forced to resign or retire prematurely. About 900 (mostly mid-level) officials in Guangdong were identified as luoguan, a popular term used to refer to officials whose spouses or children have acquired permanent residency or citizenship abroad, and penalized. Another 200 have been able to retain their posts after promising to bring their family members back home.

Such a large-scale campaign against luoguan followed the "persuaded retirement" of Fang Xuan, deputy Party chief of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong. Fang, too, was considered part of the luoguan "brotherhood".

The campaign against luoguan is the first by a provincial government. And in January, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for the first time issued a regulation which stipulated that luoguan are not eligible for promotion. Also, the campaign is Guangdong's direct and timely response to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's report in February, which said the luoguan phenomenon remains a sticking issue in some areas of the province.

Since Guangdong is a forerunner of China's reform and opening-up and a province neighboring Hong Kong that has traditionally had links with overseas Chinese communities, it is not strange that it has taken such an action before any other province or region. In fact, as part of the country's ongoing crackdown on corruption, Guangdong's action against luoguan reflects the Chinese leadership's resolve to end the scourge of this social malaise.

Luoguan are widely believed to be a high-risk group when it comes to corruption because the permanent residency of their family members abroad can create a convenient channel for them to transfer their illicit earnings overseas and possibly flee the country before being arrested.

Chinese people cannot accept officials taking advantage of their positions to amass wealth through illegal means and send their family members abroad, irrespective of what the reasons are. Such officials don't have the locus standi or moral right to tell their fellow citizens to love and serve their motherland while making it possible for their own family members to get permanent residency in another country, live a lavish lifestyle and even serve a foreign government.

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