Step toward good governance

Updated: 2014-07-19 06:47

By Zhu Yuan(China Daily)

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Of all the privileges, a car and a driver designated for an official's personal use is a symbol of high rank and authority. The two privileges differentiate an official from the large number of others who would never be able to enjoy them despite spending their entire lives working for the government.

During dynastic rule in China, top officials enjoyed the privilege of being carried in sedan chairs, which also differentiated them from other officials. The more lavish the sedan chair and the higher the number of chair bearers, the higher the official's ranking. To a certain extent, the current stipulation on how luxurious a car an official of a certain level is entitled to is a legacy of dynastic rule.

The number of corrupt officials detained or convicted and the rampant practice of "selling ranks" in exchange for bribes that central inspection teams have exposed show that one cannot expect officials to be clean and honest simply by indulging in self-reflection.

As President Xi Jinping said, power should be put in a cage of rules - which is exactly what the institutional mechanism is. The mechanism can also help officials realize their position in society and prompt them to perform their true duty, that is, to serve the people. The strict rules and tight supervision should compel them to do their job without getting any chance of abusing their powers to seek personal gains.

Reforming the government's vehicle-use mechanism is one, but very important, part of the fight against corruption and the overall reform of the bureaucracy. Hopefully, the vehicle-use reform will succeed in drilling the real sense of duty into the minds of government officials.

The success of the reform depends on how well it is implemented and whether the loopholes used by officials to get extra benefits are plugged by strict rules and tight supervision.

True, it is an uphill battle. But if the reform succeeds, it will lead to greater reforms in other areas.

More importantly, the success of the reform will force government officials to change their mentality that they belong to a privileged group which is meant to enjoy the comforts of life even without performing its duty, and compel them to truly serve the people.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.

(China Daily 07/19/2014 page5)

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