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Calls pour in to corruption line
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The country's first unified hotline - 12388 - for people to report corrupt officials, which opened on Thursday, is already proving its worth.

On its first day of operations, 927 calls were handled at the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the commission said on Friday.

Wu Ge, an information officer with the commission, told China Daily most of the calls were about officials' misconduct in judicial affairs, land use, the distribution of relief funds and supplies for the Sichuan quake.

"It really has been a hotline, and calls to local disciplinary departments have also been flooding in," Wu said in a telephone interview.

Many of the callers said they were making repeat complaints, but wanted to try out the new line, he said.

The unified line is the country's first for handling public reports of corruption.

People can call 12388 to reach a local discipline and supervision department, or 010-12388 to contact the CCDI direct, a press release from the commission said.

China Daily made several attempts to call 010-12388 on Friday, but the number was continuously busy. Calls to 12388 in Shandong, Shanghai and Guangdong, however, were answered.

The unified hotline will save people from having to remember the phone numbers of different discipline departments, the release said. Since 1988, discipline and supervision departments across the country have operated their own hotlines.

Ren Jianming a professor with the clean government research office at Tsinghua University, said the new line will also provide more protection for informants.

"A single line will reduce the risk of information leaks," he said.

Figures from the Supreme People's Procuratorate show that about 1,200 people a year suffer some form of revenge attack after reporting corruption.

This week, Zhang Zhi'an, Party chief of Yingquan district in Fuyang, Anhui province, was detained pending an investigation of illegal land seizures and the suspicious death of Li Guofu, a former local official who died in prison after trying to alert authorities in Beijing of Zhang's alledged corruption.

The CCDI has stressed that the personal information of anyone using the new hotline will remain confidential, although it encourages informants to give their real names. Anyone who discloses personal information about an informant, or seeks revenge will be "severely dealt with", it said.

Ren also called for better handling of complaints.

"Simply hearing from the public is not enough. The key is how we handle the information they give us and making sure we respond," he said.

An officer in Shandong who answered a 12388 call on Friday, but declined to give his name, said the handling process is much the same as it has always been: operators take notes and then hand the case to the discipline departments in the relevant city.

"But for something serious, we'll report directly to a provincial-level officer," he said.

(China Daily June 28, 2008)

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