Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

No way out through death

By Lin Zhe (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-22 07:41

The psychology of such kinds of officials is similar to that of "naked officials", who make dirty money at home for their families living abroad. Both sacrifice themselves for the family.

Actually the phenomenon appeared and aroused the attention of scholars several years ago, but it did not get widespread public attention until the Internet became popular. In The Female Prosecutor, a 2007 TV series, a corrupt official tries to leave the fortune he has made to his family by committing suicide. The TV series was actually based on true cases.

The suicides of corrupt officials cause huge losses to China's anti-graft efforts, because a large part of their illegal gains will not be confiscated, while more corrupt officials might follow suit to benefit their families.

Worse, in group corruption cases, corrupt officials can also terminate leads to further investigations by committing suicide. If a key witness dies, a higher official might be able to evade being brought to book for his crimes, which cause more damage to China's politics. Measures are needed to close that loophole.

But even so, it is still difficult for corrupt officials to take their lives and their decision-making process is often quite long. That means the efficiency of anti-graft investigations must also be raised, so that judicial procedure, in which suspects are under better control, which makes it harder for them to commit suicide, can begin earlier before corrupt officials make up their minds to take their own lives.

It might be difficult to change the principles such as ending prosecution against dead suspects, but at least disciplinary investigations should continue against them, and dig deep into the their background. Their wealth should also be investigated and the illegal parts properly dealt with. Only when corrupt officials realize that committing suicide will no longer protect their illegal income will they give up the idea.

The author is a professor on anti-graft studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

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