Opinion / Editorials

Openness on sacked officials

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-19 06:52

Many take it as a sign of progress; as it looks like we, too, have an accountability mechanism.

So be it a scandal of corruption or fatal industrial accident, when something nasty occurs and causes public indignation, we can expect to see heads roll. Officials directly involved, even chief local administrators when the matter gets truly ugly, may be dismissed.

Which seems fair and appropriate; public servants are paid to serve. Those who fail to fulfill their duties should be removed and make room for those who can.

On the one hand, the country suffers severe oversupply of big and small bureaucrats. On the other hand, there are plenty of competent candidates out there beyond the bureaucracy.

It is thus perplexing to the man on the street why so many dismissed officials appear so indispensable to the system. Especially when they come back sooner than State laws and Party and government disciplines allow.

Recent media reports show that many of the public officials dismissed for dereliction of duty have reemerged unscathed, and sooner than anticipated. Even the three found liable in the melamine-contaminated baby formula scandal have quietly come back. There was no official announcement of their return. No reason was given. No wonder the public feels duped.

Party and government decrees prohibit dismissed officials from being appointed to positions equivalent to their previous ones in seniority. Another precondition to their comeback or promotion is "outstanding performance" in new positions.

While the time limit has effectively been brushed aside in many cases, the performance issue has turned out to be almost irrelevant. Competent authorities have never bothered to present official accounts of what the dismissed officials have accomplished and why they are indispensable for public service.

Some officials may have more or less been "wronged" just because they were in leadership roles, as sometimes scapegoats are needed to appease an angry public. In that case, the dismissals are only public relations ploys to escape negative publicity, or perhaps the outcome of the inability to properly assign liabilities.

Whatever the case, the return of disgraced officials to leadership roles calls for stricter procedures and more convincing justifications.

Taxpayers' right to know should not be ignored in such significant affairs of public concern.

(China Daily 08/19/2014 page8)

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