Opinion / Opinion Line

Strict rules for clean governance will help ensure honest officials

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-03 08:50

Strict rules for clean governance will help ensure honest officials

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a meeting in Beijing, Feb 11, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

FOSHAN CITY in South China's Guangdong province recently adopted a plan to set up "experimental zones for clean governance" in which new anti-graft regulations will be experimented. The regulations require officials to report their activities during non-working hours, as well as personal matters. Ye Zhusheng, a law scholar at South China University of Technology, says in Beijing News that strict implementation is needed to make these regulations effective:

Many people argue that it is too strict for the disciplinary authorities to supervise officials' deeds during non-working hours. It is natural for people, government staff included, to send and accept gifts and attend parties with their friends, they claim.

History shows that to clean up corruption-stricken governance, high-pressure anti-graft measures are needed to curb the trend first before long-term regulations can be rooted in the political ecology.

In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region where corruption used to be a major headache, very high standards were introduced against government staff accepting and giving gifts, and these were strictly implemented. Hong Kong government employees might suffer because they can hardly accept gifts, but politics there has finally become clean.

It should be emphasized that such high standards are only temporary measures and an effective long-term anti-graft system is impossible without strict supervision of power.

There are many examples in history in which harsh punitive measures against corruption failed to make politics clean. What is needed is a regulatory system that shuts power in the cage.

The disciplinary leaders in Foshan said they wanted to learn the lessons of the Hong Kong-based Independent Commission Against Corruption. That's creative and they need to know that the success of the ICAC lies in the higher requirements it makes of its own staff. Only when the anti-graft agency is clean can it effectively fight corruption. Its high standards of self-regulation have won the ICAC the trust of the public.

Everybody wishes the experimental zones in Foshan a success. For that to come true, Foshan authorities are right to set high standards to regulate officials. The next task is to strictly implement them.

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