Bureaus Exclusive

Freeloading civil servant back at work

By Hu Meidong and Wei Tian (China Daily Fujian Bureau)
Updated: 2011-02-15 09:17
Large Medium Small

FUZHOU - After nine years of absence from his post in the local government, Jiang Jinxiang, the "Most capable civil servant" whose experience has stirred up much dispute both online and off, went back to work on Monday.

Jiang, a former section chief under the Longyan People's Congress, was suspended in May 2002 after distributing files among the delegates concerning quality problems in a local underground utilities project.

"I was shocked at first because they did not process the problems I reported but directed the spearhead at me," Jiang said. He was then dismissed from his post for "disseminating messages at the congress without permission."

Jiang was transferred to the Longyan city supervision department in October 2003. However, claiming to be still on suspension and never receiving a formal notice, he defied the transfer and did not show up at the office once.

But his salary was still paid to his account on time, amounting to a total of some 150,000 yuan ($22,727) during the following 89 months.

Jiang's case quickly became a hot topic after it was posted on the Internet by his friend. He was sarcastically given the name "Most capable civil servant" for his nine years of freeloading.

"I'm not 'capable' at all nor do I have any powerful background, my entire family lives on my salary," Jiang said. "The irresponsible result was from my being too responsible for my job in the first place."

Zheng Lixin, head of the Longyan bureau of construction, said not stopping Jiang's salary payment was due to humanitarian reasons concerning Jiang's domestic difficulties, but experts questioned the validity of such measures.

"Whatever reasons it was, paying salaries to a chronically absent employee is an abuse of public resources," said Wen Yueran, a human resources expert at Renmin University. "Yet Jiang's case is just the tip of the iceberg in our nation's civil services team."

"The cause of such faults is the inadequate civil servant selection system," said Jurisprudence Daily, quoting Ren Jianmin, who specializes in public administration at Tsinghua University.

"Although the entry level positions are selected by examinations, the rest still relies on direct appointments," said Ren. "The best solution is to implement competition at all levels."

Jiang told China Daily that he is now assigned to a job at the pension office, and he could receive an extra 300 yuan in travel allowance on top of his 2,700 yuan basic salary. "But it seemed all my colleagues are still shunning me like I am some kind of alien."

"I never thought my case would raise so much attention nationwide. But I don't regret it as long as the whole thing can be put to a satisfying end," Jiang said.

Although local authorities said in Saturday's response that they have handled the issue Jiang reported in April 2003, Jiang said the case was never thoroughly investigated and more was to be uncovered.

"My returning to work was not a compromise to the unfair treatment I received and the issue I reported," said the 55-year-old. "I'll keep watching the progress and would still resign if the problems are not properly dealt with."