Cadres put their partners on graft watch

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 July, 2005, 12:00am

More than 200 cadres in Lanzhou, Gansu province, have signed a pledge to keep watch on their spouses in the latest Communist Party strategy to curb corruption.

The cadres made the pledge after watching a party 'educational' film entitled Pillow Alarm on Thursday, the West Economic Daily reported. The movie tells the story of a party leader's fall from grace after his family persuaded him to take bribes.

The cadres promised to never take bribes and to follow party discipline in watching over their spouses. They also promised not to engage in business activities that involved taking advantage of their partners' official position.

Party leaders have repeatedly vowed to crack down on corruption but have mainly relied on self-discipline among cadres to stem the tide, despite recognising it as a threat to the party's very survival if left unchecked.

Yesterday, Li Zhilun , a vice-secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, gave a lecture to more than 800 cadres at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to remind them that they should follow party rules and avoid temptation.

'Every cadre must have the self-awareness to say no to corruption and resist temptation,' Mr Li was quoted as saying. '[If we do that], then the party will show a new face.

'There are already many examples of how our cadres have become corrupt. Most started when cadres failed to control themselves and fell deeper and deeper into the trap. The cadre not only ruins himself, he also brings great disaster to the party and the people.'

Despite the rhetoric, Beijing-based professor Hu Xingduo said unless the party greatly strengthened the development of the judiciary and allowed a free press, small steps such as the pledges in Lanzhou would hardly achieve anything.

'It was such an absurd and helpless form of regulation,' he said, referring to the pledges signed by the Lanzhou cadres. 'The party is scared that it could lose power.'

Professor Hu said the pledges were gimmicks by Lanzhou to appease the leadership in Beijing rather than evidence that the authorities took fighting corruption seriously.

'When the press becomes a political propaganda tool; when an independent judiciary means [a threat] to the party's authority, corruption can never be wiped out in our country,' he said.

Professor Hu said similar pledges had been tried in other mainland cities, with little effect.

Lanzhou residents were similarly unimpressed. 'I don't think signing a pledge can really prevent corruption,' one said, adding that the authorities needed to come up with concrete measures to stop the rot.