Shanghai vows transparency

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 March, 2009, 12:00am

Shanghai's municipal government has vowed greater transparency and accountability in considering the public's views, local media have reported.

Mayor Han Zheng said the city would step up efforts to solicit 'orderly public participation' in decision-making on 'important policy issues'.

Mr Han said on Wednesday that greater public participation could be effective in curbing 'abuses of power by certain segments', the Xinmin Evening News reported.

'Open information is in itself a form of supervision, and also a form of motivation,' Mr Han said, adding that he planned to strengthen the city government's transparency, including in its audits.

'In the future, how do we broaden the public's orderly participation? What steps do we need to take? This is the crux of what we need to explore.'

Transparency and accountability have become the new mantra of Mr Han's administration in a city rocked in recent years by numerous corruption scandals.

Mr Han pointed to earthquake-reconstruction funds the city sent to Dujiangyan, Sichuan, with the public needing an account of how every yuan was being spent.

He also pledged complete openness about how funds raised through the auction of vehicle number plates would be used.

The mayor's comments came as the city's urban planning department called for public input on plans to push ahead with the redevelopment of rundown parts of the city. It said it planned to start building high-density public housing in five central districts, and would seek approval from residents.

The government has up to now been building homes on the outskirts of Shanghai, but the urban-renewal scheme has been facing resistance from residents unwilling to move away from the heart of the city.

Redevelopment has become a key concern among Shanghai residents, with large areas of the old centre being revamped in the rush to put on a shiny new face for the World Expo next year.

Entire blocks of old low-rise housing have been flattened to make way for a network of new subway lines throughout the city. However, the pace of redevelopment has become a polarising force, with worries raised about the loss of heritage while some critics lament inaction in some of the poorest districts.

The news provoked a strong reaction from residents commenting on the city's official news website,

'The government pledged to redevelop Laoximen subdistrict way back in 2004. Why haven't they started yet?' said one reader posting under the name 'Tough Wait'.

'I wish the government would do as it promised and let the people believe it is telling the truth.'


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