Xinhua News Agency

Beijing will ask citizens to rate officials

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 July, 2008, 12:00am

The central government has launched an annual popularity survey to monitor the performance of government departments and civil servants, Xinhua reported yesterday.

The project, commissioned by the Organisation Department of the Communist Party's Central Committee, comes as tensions between authorities and the public have intensified in recent years. In one of the latest incidents, thousands of residents rioted in Guizhou province's Wengan county to protest against the government's alleged mishandling of a teenage girl's death.

Officers from the National Bureau of Statistics rolled out the survey across the nation this month. It will also cover employees of government agencies and state enterprises.

About 80,000 people will be polled on officials' performance and image. They will also be asked to judge the fairness of cadres' promotions and their efforts in preventing and correcting mistakes.

An unidentified official from the Organisation Department told Xinhua the survey was designed to find out 'key problems' in the public's opinion of the government.

Although there has never been an official public look at the popularity of the government, frequent protests over the past few years have underscored discontent on issues ranging from corruption and collusion with businessmen to incompetence.

During the Wengan incident this month, residents complained that police and local officials had been protecting gangsters and corruption was rampant. An Organisation Department official from the county, Mo Tao , was quoted by Xinhua as admitting collusion had occurred between officials and gangsters.

Parents of the girl, Li Shufen , believed she had been raped and murdered, but official autopsy reports said there was no evidence of sexual assault and that she had committed suicide by drowning herself.

Four officials were later sacked in an attempt to pacify the residents.