Anger at Guangdong deputy's remark officials entitled to privacy on assets

Claim that officials are entitled to privacy over their assets does not go down well on Net

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2013, 4:19am

A Guangdong People's Congress deputy has sparked controversy by saying officials are not slaves to the people and they should not have to declare their assets.

"Officials are civil servants, not slaves to the people," deputy Ye Pengzhi, the head of an aluminium extrusion manufacturer, said on Thursday at a preparatory meeting for the annual gathering of the provincial congress, the Nanfang Daily reported.

"Officials need privacy in the same way that sick people get privacy for their medical records when they seek treatment. Is there even a legal basis for requiring officials to publicly declare their assets?"

Ye said the Communist Party already had plenty of ways to monitor officials, and declaring assets internally should suffice.

He then suggested a lottery approach, with officials only required to declare their assets if their names were picked out in a random draw.

Ye's comments sparked an outcry among internet users.

Public calls for a system requiring party officials to disclose their assets have risen since the new leadership pledged to crack down on corruption.

"If they call themselves the 'people's deputies', then they should speak out for the people," one microblogger said. "In reality, officials are not slaves to the people, they are the masters of the people."

The feasibility of a mandatory system has been the hottest topic of discussion since the opening of the Guangzhou's People's Congress meeting on Wednesday, with many deputies reluctant to give direct answers. They said they would disclose their assets only if their party boss told them to.

Guangzhou mayor Chen Jianhua said on Wednesday he would "take the lead" in disclosing his assets if so ordered.

"The method of disclosure is decided by our superiors," he said. "I would say that if [Guangzhou] is told to disclose, I would take the lead to disclose."

Ye's comments were made as Guangdong's party graft watchdog said a Shenzhen village official accused by internet users of having 2 billion yuan in assets had seriously violated party discipline.

Zhou Weisi was placed under investigation in November after allegations he owned more than 80 properties and 20 cars, which he presumably could not afford on an official's salary.

Zhou had earlier denied owning most of the properties and said those he did own were acquired by his business.