To serve and to collect: the 10 personalities of public service

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 May, 2011, 12:00am


The bi-monthly magazine The People's Tribune, run by the Communist Party's official mouthpiece, the People's Daily, is a good place to find more colourful opinions on political issues.

Recently it ran a list of nicknames for 10 different types of mainland cadres. Mostly picked up from other mainland media, they are an indication of how today's cadres treat their careers and do their jobs.

The first category is the 'three-quick cadres' - basically those good at nothing but making cursory decisions, giving swift pledges to their boss, and beating a hasty retreat whenever anything goes wrong without taking responsibility.

Unfortunately, the magazine lamented, there is no shortage of them and their 'hasty decisions' resulted in financial losses of 27.1 billion yuan (HK$32.5 billion) in in 2007 from misconceived projects and wasteful spending.

'Double-expert cadres' are adept at stealing public funds and taking bribes while managing regional economic growth. A typical case, the magazine said, was former railway minister Liu Zhijun, who used to spearhead the mainland's high-speed rail programme.

The third category, 'naked cadres', send their entire families overseas, usually with a lot of cash, with only themselves staying behind, so that they can run away at any minute.

The magazine quoted 'relevant authorities' (maybe Communist Party discipline inspectors) as saying that from 1995 to 2005, mainland cadres sent 1.18 million family members overseas. Right now, about 4,000 mainland corruption suspects are hiding abroad after making off with some US$50 billion, it reported.

'Office-squatters' care only about seeking promotion, not delivering better services.

Somewhat different are 'ceiling-cadres', who are no longer motivated at the dead end of their career or close to retirement. Indeed, many start living a retiree's lifestyle before they leave office.

'Floor-cadres', as the name implies, are at the bottom of the bureaucratic pecking order, do tedious office chores, feel under-appreciated but lack motivation.

The seventh category is 'three-door cadres' - those who have not seen much of society because their life experience is so narrow that it runs straight from the door of their home to the door of their school and then to the door of their office.

Not to be forgotten are the 'hardworking failures' - diligent but lacking any sense of achievement, feel overloaded and depressed.

The 'all-direction complainers' are negative about their bosses, subordinates, colleagues, and predecessors. They cannot function and are upset by small problems.

Rounding out the 10 categories are the 'cursor-cadres' - unable to show initiative and behaving like the cursor on a computer screen, immobile unless pushed by their boss or pressed by the masses.

A year has passed quietly since the State Council adopted 36 guidelines to promote private-sector investment. The reason for the silences is that there is really nothing to write home about when it comes to the results of such supposedly important government policies.

An editorial in the biweekly magazine Caijing said that, quite predictably, this cluster of State Council promises nicknamed the 36 new guidelines, had failed just like the previous set of 36 guidelines adopted in 2005.

Most barriers to private capital remain standing. And there is no room for optimism when the authorities are invited to design their own reforms, the editorial said.

China set a goal a decade ago that state-owned enterprises should withdraw from 'generally competitive industries'. But each government agency has only tried to expand its own industrial base instead, the editorial said.

The 4 trillion yuan stimulus package that the government launched in late 2008 put a further damper on private enterprise because most of the funds were used to help state-sector companies.

So the failure of the 36 guidelines reflects a failure to see what benefits private capital and enterprise can bring to society.

A commentary in the Economic Information Daily, echoed Caijing, saying private companies accounted for 80 per cent of the mainland's new products, 65 per cent of innovations and patents and 80 per cent of productivity in its 56 hi-tech development zones.

In contrast, most state-owned companies are happy to earn easy profits from their monopolies.