Deputy advocates assets declaration law

By Zhang Tingting
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, March 5, 2010
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China's warrior representative is back in action yet again. Han Deyun, a deputy to China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), submitted a proposal to the third session of the 11th NPC that opened in Beijing on March 5. It's the fifth consecutive year Han has taken such a proposal to the annual NPC session.

His persistence in submitting the same proposal year after year has drawn much attention from the media and given him the nickname "Warrior" by many people. Han, an attorney at Chongqing Solton Law Firm, says he doesn't like this description of himself, as he is always in a quiet and peaceful mind when dealing with this issue. Requiring public servants to declare their assets is not an easy issue to tackle, although Han says recent developments have given him hope.

In an online forum with netizens in February last year, Premiere Wen Jiabao agreed that a declaration system of officials' assets was needed. Some local governments have already begun relevant trials. Just this year, Kaixian County of the Chongqing Municipality issued regulations regarding top officials' assets. By the end of January, 14 county-level officials had declared their properties to the public.

Han says the trial carried out by Kaixian is ethically legitimate, but lacks legal basis. As such a declaration system touches on a person's right to privacy, the system cannot be implemented from the masses up. The first step should be the enactment of a law, so that a sound foundation for the system is established.

Acting as an anti-corruption mechanism, declaration of officials' assets would provide reviews of officials' previous conduct and help crack down on corruption. Incumbent officials might resist the mechanism, seeing it as a tool of punishment. However, according to Han, this is a common difficulty faced by many officials around the world and drafting legislation would serve as a test of the government's wisdom.

Han warns that the government could pay a hefty price if it radically implements such a system. He suggests that once a law is enacted, the central government should then move to authorize power to the local governments, so as to gradually promote the system in selected key fields and regions.

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