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Holding Law Reform Right Way
The end of the holding and relocation system may lead to temporary pressure on the work to maintain social order and safeguard social security, but this should not be cited as an excuse to continue the regulation at the expense of personal freedom.

With holding centers closing their doors in Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province, the order in local railway and long-distance bus stations has been worsening, with crimes such as theft, swindling and robbery all on increase, according to a local newspaper.

It seems to be a rash conclusion to attribute the disorder directly to the withdrawal of the holding system, which is to be replaced by a relief program next month.

Guangzhou railway station has long been notorious for anti-social behavior, which is, in fact, a chronic malady in many other big cities.

The recent deteriorating situation, as reported, may be related to the boom of travelers since the alert on SARS has only just lifted and the summer transport peak season begins.

It is groundless and inappropriate to place the blame on the pending nullification of the holding system.

Truly, the collection and relocation system has been designed to play a role in maintaining order in urban areas, so when it is abolished cities may feel some security pressure.

This also explains the government's hesitance in the past to put an end to the 21-year-old decree.

Thanks to progress in the field of law, a citizen's constitutional rights weigh more heavily in the latest government decision.

The withdrawal of the holding system, in a sense, puts to the test the public security department's ability to safeguard social order and combat crime.

The forceful collection and relocation, which in itself is a serious violation of a citizen's right of the person, is by no means the final answer to resolve disorder in cities. Instead, public security departments should strive to improve their ability to enforce and uphold the law.

The State Council's decision to nullify the holding system, which is widely welcome and appropriate to the current climate, should not be used as an excuse for failure to act, or the neglect of duties by individuals or departments.

(China Daily July 4, 2003)

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