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Separate public, private space
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The linking of entertainment to work requirements is an attempt to blur the boundaries between public and private space. This is useful for some government workers to legitimize their indulgence at entertainment venues at public expense, says an article in Yanzhao Metropolis News. Excerpts:

A recent survey found out that 31 percent of the 105 government officials in places like Jiangsu, Henan and Sichuan provinces believed that going to entertainment spots during their leisure hours was part of their work responsibility.

Since this survey protected the identities of those polled, there was no need for the local government leaders to lie. To cater to the whims of their superiors and boost the local economy, they may have had no choice but to attend various entertainment activities; and, excessive entertainment, at times, can be a heavy burden for them. That seems to be a reality of China's political life.

This reality, in turn, gives rise to some peculiar practices. For instance, a government leader from Henan was awarded a prize by the local government for drinking too much wine and dying at a banquet. The bestowing of such an award actually concedes that the workplace for government leaders can extend to entertainment venues.

To deal with this reality and preclude such awards, Guangdong province laid down the rule that injury and death caused by excessive drinking in the course of work by government officials would not be categorized as work injury.

There is no need for civil servants to carry out government work at entertainment venues. None of the excuses they give can justify their waste of public funds for personal pleasure.

It's common for government leaders to use public funds for personal activities such as dining and traveling, and turning government cars into private ones. Worse, public interests can be shown as personal interests and principles of public service distorted at will.

There is need to guard against this blurring of boundaries, reject the linking of entertainment with work, and prohibit officials from wasting public funds at entertainment venues. This is necessary as political discipline and in public interest.

(China Daily June 12, 2009)

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