Breaking shameful cycle

Updated: 2014-06-27 07:21

(China Daily)

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Each time the national audit office releases its annual auditing report on major central and local government institutions, we see similar patterns of abuses, as well as similar, if not the same, rule-violating agencies and persons.

This time, again, we are presented with the same plentitude of the obvious.

Some central government departments and their non-administrative affiliates were found abusing the administrative resources at their disposal and making illicit profits. And collective corruption was "serious".

Like always, the problems are concentrated in the most powerful institutions, consolidating the saying that where there is unbridled power, there is abuse. As always, the previous promises and "precautions" and "rectifications" turned out to be at best ineffective, if not thoroughly useless.

The same old vicious circle seems to be at work - "competent authorities have taken 130 rectification measures in the auditing process," we are assured. Yet the aggregate total of illicit gains and losses resulting from the abuse of power was in the billions. And it seems once again the whole thing is being handled with tender kid gloves.

Should such a pattern be allowed to persist, we have every reason to anticipate the same old plots of abuse next year, the year after that, and the year after that...

Our State coffers have grown so much that a couple of billions of yuan does not even raise an eyebrow in corruption scandals these days. Even more so in cases where institutions are involved. But that in no way justifies the leniency shown to the violators.

Of course such unseemly discoveries can be packaged to showcase anti-graft resolve. The annual repetition of such shows, however, carries a lethal threat to the credibility of the system, which is a lot more costly than disgracing individual rule-breakers.

The biggest danger lies in the harmful message people may induce from these revelations: System insiders can always count on lenient treatment even when their wrongdoing is uncovered. Which leads to system insiders becoming even bolder in abusing their powers, and outsiders becoming more cynical about the fight against corruption.

We are ashamed to see that 26 of the 38 central government departments were found to have cheated regarding their expenses on motor vehicles, overseas trips, and receptions and entertainment. Especially since such abuses of taxpayers' money took place amid the high-profile campaign to dramatically cut such expenses.

The violators must pay for their wrongdoings, otherwise the system will pay the price.

(China Daily 06/27/2014 page8)