60pc of city mayors fail to carry out terms: poll

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 March, 2008, 12:00am
 

More than 60 per cent of China's mayors fail to finish their five-year terms, while one stayed in the post for just three months, a survey has found.

The China Mayors' Association picked 150 cities at random from the mainland's 661 and found that 92, or 61.3 per cent, had seen their mayors change once between 2002 and 2006.

Among the sample, just 26 mayors had completed their five-year term. Only three earned a second term, though none had completed it.

Another 38 cities, or 25.3 per cent of those sampled, saw their mayors change twice in five years. The other 20 cities had not changed mayors.

'If a city has its mayor changed twice in five years, you can tell each mayor did not stay very long,' the association's vice-chairwoman, Tao Siliang , said yesterday.

The results showed that mayors were changed too frequently and were often too focused on ascending the political ladder instead of concentrating on managing their cities, Ms Tao said on the sidelines of a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference panel meeting.

'They spend much effort climbing up the ladder. It promotes the practice of acquiring official posts through bribes,' she said. 'It also fuels short-sighted activities [by the mayors] and sloppy projects to earn political credits, and it puts the [welfare] of ordinary people at risk.'

Ms Tao said the trend would not make a favourable impression on constituents, unlike mayors in the 1980s or 1990s, who worked in the same cities long enough to do something for the people.

Ms Tao said the survey found that small and less affluent cities tended to change their mayors more frequently than bigger or richer centres.

When asked if the phenomenon was because of the thriving practice of selling and buying official posts in small and poor cities, she said: 'I have no evidence.'

She said organisational departments should let mayors complete at least one term and encourage them to stay in a city for 10 years by elevating those who prove outstanding to more senior positions after they complete two terms. Only then could mayors do something concrete to improve people's lives.

'A mayor should focus on the public administration of a city, not spending all his time trying to get foreign investors and approving projects,' she said.

Last year, Ms Tao submitted a proposal that mayors be elected by universal suffrage in cities with fewer than 50,000 people. In its reply, the party's organisation department said it was not feasible unless China amended its constitution.

Speaking at a different panel meeting, Liu Qingzhu, a former director of the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, echoed Ms Tao's views. He said the organisational departments reshuffled local officials too frequently.

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