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Public opinions help shape local laws

By ZHOU WENTING in Shanghai | | Updated: 2021-04-20 14:07
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The Hongqiao sub-district in Shanghai's Changning district, the city's only region that can solicit public advice and provide suggestions for the country's law revision, has said that the quality and quantity of the suggestions it has reported to the national legislative body are improving.

The sub-district, which assumed this role in July 2015, said that by October 2019, 25 of its suggestions for law revision had been adopted by the national legislature. The figure rose to 72 as of March this year.

You Yuanchao, a specialist of the People's Congress branch in the sub-district, attributed this improvement to the expansion of solicitation efforts to more individuals and communities.

He noted that the sub-district has been collaborating with three other sub-districts - Jing'an, Xuhui and Jiading - to solicit public advice for law revisions and to improve public participation.

"We also paid attention to improving democracy through the process. Before a law is amended, we communicate with the public through various means. When a law revision is unveiled, we collect their feedback and report them to the authority," You said.

One suggestion provided to the national legislature was to deem the act of interfering with the job of a bus driver while he or she is operating the vehicle as a criminal offense as this threatens public safety. The suggestion was included in a law amendment published in December 2020.

Last summer, the team visited a middle school within the sub-district to learn about the ideas that students and teachers had regarding the revision of the Law on the Protection of Minors.

You recalled that one student suggested removing the fines levied on parents who were found to have neglected their parental roles and abused their kids. The reason this student gave was that the fine could put more pressure both financially and mentally on the parents, thus creating a vicious cycle which might result in a worse living environment for the child.

The student's suggestion was eventually adopted in the amendment published in October.

You added that his team solicits opinions for different laws every year and several meetings are held to gather opinions about a single law.

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