Guangzhou party official to make assets public to bootstrap anti-corruption plans
People have gotten excited over Fan Songqing, a deputy secretary with the CPPCC Guangzhou municipal committee because a few days ago he said he wants to be the first to go public with his (and his family's) total personal assets ahead of upcoming local transparency mechanisms to ensure they prove effective.
Provincial officials announced last year one district in Guangzhou has been chosen for what's being touted as the country's first formal pilot assets declaration scheme, although it remains uncertain whether or not information disclosed will be accessible to the public.
It's that lack of accountability, Fan said in one interview, which prompted his decision, and led previous similar attempts at transparency in Xinjiang and other provinces to failure.
Incidentally, Party discipline officials revealed last week that consensus within the Communist Party ahead of the NPC/CPPCC sessions in March slightly favours trying to rein in corruption through officials' disclosure of assets over political reform of the corrupt system.
Fan also argues the scheme should be extended to include the heads of state-owned enterprises and civil servants from the county level on up through their tenure and for the five years following their retirement from public service.
And, of course, all those assets officials have stored safely overseas, says Fan, who has been the top local news story since the weekend.
Amid a flurry of coverage, Guangzhou media chasing the story have been allowed to interview (and quote) several of the city's most senior leaders.
"If the Party committee and government order it," said Guangzhou CPPCC Chair Su Zhijia Sunday, "then so it shall be done."
Ding Hongdu, Party secretary of Guangzhou's Nansha district, slated for the transparency project, has gone on record saying he enthusiastically supports Fan's proposal and is even willing to join him.
In an interview Saturday with Southern Metropoplis Daily, Guangzhou deputy mayor Wang Dong also revealed that following the Nansha pilot scheme the next step will be public declaration of assets by national-level leaders, followed by officials at the provincial and then municipal leaders throughout the country.
Fan, for his part, has sort of begun to follow through, revealing in interviews he lives in a walk-up building with a flat just over 70 square metres in size, but leaving his supporters in suspense pending disclosure of any serious details.
Southern Metropolis Daily, which has given Fan's good intentions extensive coverage, was even able to get a quote from Guangzhou mayor Chen Jianhua urging Fan to go for it:
"That's great, he should go public if he's willing, that is his freedom."
The Nansha experiment is set to be extended to the rest of Guangdong province next year.
Guangzhou's New Express newspaper today ran a summary of a Guangzhou CPPCC committee meeting held yesterday, during which committee members lobbed tough questions Fan's way and it emerged he at one point owned a second property, one which Fan claims he paid off using proceeds from a book he'd just written, that the flat was sold off in 2003 and was much smaller than his current flat.
Late last night, our friends at Xinhua caught on and published a report from Guangzhou which makes zero mention of the small movement Fan has started and in vague language 'clarifies' some facts for concerned Guangzhou cadres (emphasis mine):
Only a fraction of officials will be required to declare their assets; assets to be declared under the pilot scheme will include items such as property holdings, investment commitments and one's spouse's employment situation, but not one's salary; officials will only be declaring said assets, not making them public.
In April last year, Guangzhou authorities sent one man to prison for calling publicly on Hu Jintao to declare his own personal wealth, Radio Free Asia reported last month.
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