Top leaders should set example and reveal their bank balances

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 12:00am

Every year, NPC deputies vent their anger and dissatisfaction with rampant official corruption and rising social injustice by either voting against the two reports presented by the mainland's top judge and top prosecutor, or abstaining from the votes altogether.

The number of disgruntled deputies varies, but it usually accounts for a fifth to a quarter of the nearly 3,000 NPC deputies.

Although the dissenting votes are not enough to reject either report, they send a powerful message to the mainland's law-enforcement officials.

Judging from past experience, there should be no exception this year.

To their credit, Supreme People's Court President Xiao Yang and Procurator-General Jia Chunwang have taken serious steps to address the main complaints - the abuse of power and misconduct by law-enforcement officials, and, more importantly, widespread official corruption.

Mr Xiao said yesterday the courts handled 24,184 cases involving officials last year.

Six officials with the ranking of government ministers and 772 officials above county level were convicted of corruption.

Mr Jia said the procuratorate investigated 43,757 officials last year - 35,031 of them suspects in corruption cases, including 11 ministerial-level officials.

Mr Xiao and Mr Jia both vowed yesterday to step up efforts to fight official corruption but provided little in the way of detail. Many NPC deputies and CPPCC delegates have put forward effective proposals which would make their jobs much easier.

NPC deputy Zhou Hongyu from Hubei province suggested that the central government require civil servants to declare their incomes and that they should only be allowed one bank account as long as they were in the government.

Another NPC deputy, China Merchants Bank president Ma Weihua , was more specific, saying top managers at state firms should not only declare their own incomes and assets, but also those of their wives and close family members. And the figures should be examined by certified auditors.

Wang Quanjie , an NPC deputy from Shandong , called on all Communist Party members and government officials to declare their incomes annually.

Calls for letting 'sunshine' into the incomes of officials are getting louder and whether those proposals are adopted or not should be seen as a benchmark indicator of the leadership's determination to curb rampant official corruption.

Mainland academics said that for those proposals to be effective, President Hu Jintao , Premier Wen Jiabao and other government leaders must set examples by first declaring their incomes and those of their family members.

They said the leaders of western countries were required by law to declare their incomes. Such a practice would also enable both the public and the authorities to better monitor officials' conduct and spot problems before they get out of hand.

This is critical to the mainland's efforts to fight corruption. Let's hope Mr Hu and Mr Wen heed the deputies' calls.