Draft law to give errant officials second chance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 February, 2010, 12:00am

A controversial draft law being debated by national lawmakers would expunge the records of disgraced officials after a set term, promising that cadres' promotion prospects would not be affected by previous faults.

The draft, submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, suggests that party disciplinary bodies set fixed terms for disgraced officials and that they be allowed to resume their positions once their demotion or dismissal orders expire, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.

The official accountability system, endorsed by the Politburo last year, has been widely criticised by the public after a large number of sacked cadres were quietly reappointed by the government.

In December, former top food safety official Li Changjiang, who was stripped of his position over the melamine-tainted milk scandal in 2008, was reappointed to head a national anti-pornography commission. Nearly 300,000 children fell ill with kidney problems in the milk scandal, which stoked widespread public anger.

Last month Meng Xuenong, a former Beijing mayor and Shanxi governor who was forced to resign twice to take responsibility for the Sars crisis and a mudslide that killed 254 people, was given a new post as deputy secretary of the Work Committee of the Departments under the Communist Party's Central Committee - nominally in charge of overseeing party chiefs of various party departments.

The rehabilitation of the two senior officials outraged the public and led many to question the credibility of the party's accountability system.

But the draft law is expected to make disgraced officials' return a routine procedure. '[Officials who] repent their faults and do not offend party discipline during their probation will be removed from the punishment list,' the draft law says.

Professor Wang Yukai, from the National School of Administration, says the draft law has some merit, even though the public do not want to see repeated resurrections of notorious officials.

'Some cadres sacked over deadly accidents are scapegoats rather than the ones who should take responsibility,' the Beijing Times quoted him as saying. 'It's irresponsible if we simply strip them of their posts. Punishment should be a fixed term and the authorities should reappraise disgraced officials after that.'

The draft law also requires party disciplinary bodies to protect and reply to whistleblowers who report corrupt cadres or official misconduct.