Opinion / Editorials

Only serving the public will rebuild govt image

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-20 07:38

Only serving the public will rebuild govt image

Masses of vehicles line up in long queues to pass through a toll station on an expressway prior to the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday in Guangzhou city, south Chinas Guangdong province. [Photo/IC]

The Ministry of Transport may not have anticipated this.

As soon as its statistical report on financial conditions of toll roads for fiscal year 2013 was published, the ministry became a subject of mockery. There is the prevailing belief that it is exaggerating losses so it can prolong collecting tolls.

While that is yet to be confirmed, the MOT is indeed trying to revise a 2004 decree on toll road management, under which many toll roads will stop collecting fees in the next few years.

Now, unless the MOT can convince the suspicious national audience with solid proof, it will only sink deeper into the mire of a credibility crisis.

The MOT is certainly not alone there.

Year after year, the environmental authorities have blamed their ineffectiveness on their weakness in the national bureaucratic setup. Now the former bureau of environmental protection has grown into a full-blown ministry, and the environmental watchdogs are bestowed the power to kill all projects that they consider hazardous to the environment.

But the environment has hardly improved.

And, to the astonishment of many people, after so many scandals, rounds after rounds of crackdowns, and vows to safeguard the national food chain, diseased livestock can still be seen in our food chains with quarantine certificates from those supposed to do the opposite.

It is thus unfair to blame the public for being incredulous, even cynical. It is the only means of self-protection when those who are supposed to do that for us fail in their duty.

Since the lack of public confidence is a universal truth facing all authorities, how the MOT and other offices respond to it is of great importance to the credibility of the entire system.

Their rhetoric about service-oriented government has been taken as a game of words, because they appear to be driven by departmental or personal gains only.

This is no stereotyping. This is the public image they have built for themselves with their own words and deeds. To repair the broken images, public office holders must first come to terms with what they are supposed to be - public servants.

So the MOT should not blame the public for reasonable skeptism. The only right thing to do is to be honest: Be clear about what it claims, and behave itself in carrying out its duties.

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