Actions speak louder than words for the 'King of Bills'
Minnie Chan in Beijing
Determined to change the common perception of the National People's Congress as a mere rubber stamp, Luo Yifeng has submitted more than 12,000 proposals to the legislative body in his 18 years as a deputy, earning him the title of 'King of Bills' from the media.
Mr Luo, director of the State Special Synthetic Fibre Information Centre, sacrifices sleep and thousands of yuan each year in his legislative mission. As none of the outlay can be claimed back, endorsement of the ideas is his only reward.
This year's NPC session will study seven of his draft bills, ranging from passport issues to property management laws.
'I want to prove that NPC representatives in China can be as efficient as western congressman even though we receive no payments, offices or assistants,' Mr Luo said.
One of the main changes that Mr Luo, an overseas Chinese, has seen in the NPC over the past two decades was the introduction in 1990 of the secret ballot, a development he described as a breakthrough in the history of the 56-year-old institution.
'Real democracy is when people can enforce the right to freely say no,' he said.
NPC delegates may have greater opportunity to exercise those rights under government plans to expand their influence. At last month's NPC Standing Committee meeting, chairman Wu Bangguo announced that the central government would strengthen the role of NPC delegates, a move that would come with greater responsibility.
'[Mr Wu's] document said all the delegates had to upgrade their knowledge of legislation and some other specific items,' Mr Luo said.
He said the NPC had three priorities this year. 'The three are anything related to market economics, people's interests, as well as refining NPC functions.'
Mr Luo also said this could be the year that the NPC Supervision Law - a project 18 years in the making - made it onto the books. The draft legislation lays out the congress' responsibilities in overseeing the government, the State Council and the supreme court.
'The real role of NPC is to balance the power of the three top organs,' he said.
Mr Luo has come a long way from his childhood in Indonesia to his return to the mainland in 1957 and his 'volunteer' job as a legislator. For many years, diplomatic tensions meant he could not go to Jakarta to visit relatives, but he did not regret taking up residence in China.
'A strong sentiment of patriotism drove me to make such a big decision as I have yearned to devote all my youth and wisdom to my mother country.'
Mr Luo set a goal eight years ago to talk to at least 500 people from all walks of life each year to find out their needs. Now, most of the proposals he submits to the congress are not his own ideas.
'Being an NPC delegate ... only works when you implement it,' he said. 'I don't want to fall short of people's expectations.
'It's impossible for me to conceive so many proposals. My proposals are so comprehensive, from sexual harassment to e-commerce.
'People from different levels are willing to talk with me and pass on their proposals. I think I will do my job better if I get the opportunity to serve for one more term.'