Opinion / From the Press

Public has right to know in exposing 'naked officials'

By Li Yang ( Updated: 2014-08-13 14:36

If central authorities really take the issue of "naked officials" seriously, it should make the procedure transparent, says an article in China Business News. Excerpts:

"Naked officials" refers to civil servants whose spouses and children live abroad with foreign nationalities or permanent residence rights. It is understandably easier for "naked officials" to transfer illegal income to foreign countries, and even to escape abroad when they are investigated for suspected wrongdoing.

Cleaning out "naked officials" is a key task for the government. The central authority's stand is clear that "naked officials" can maintain their posts if their families discard foreign nationalities or permanent residence rights before a deadline. Otherwise they should quit their jobs.

The on-going anti-corruption campaign shows that "naked officials" are common in many places, and the inspection teams sent to check local mandarins have obtained exact numbers.

But almost all relevant departments responded to public query by saying: "It is not convenient to disclose the exact numbers".

Only the Guangdong provincial government is an exception. It said in May that 2,190 "naked officials" have been identified and 866 of them have been transferred to other posts.

The central government should make data on "naked officials" more transparent because it is directly related to the government's performance and is in the public interest.

Not only the number of "naked officials" but also their posts and names should be disclosed to the public for more effective scrutiny and supervision.

The transparency can force the "naked officials" to behave themselves, even if they are transferred to new posts, a conventional practice to deal with them so far.

It is estimated there are about 60,000 "naked officials" nationwide, according to data provided by Guangdong. That is about 1 percent of the 7 million civil servant team.

Disclosing information involves only a small proportion of the officials, but is of great symbolic meaning in China's fight against abuse of power and corruption. The government can win more credibility by doing so, which the authority desperately needs to secure today.

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