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Apology Only the First Step
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The apology made by a top city official to the public heralds the first step towards setting up an accountability system, says a signed article in People's Daily. An excerpt follows:

At the latest session of the municipal people's congress last weekend, the mayor of Chaohu, east China's Anhui Province, extended a deep apology to the public and the deputies of people's congress for failure to achieve some of the set government goals.

This has been widely considered a good start in the process of building a responsible and accountable government.

Nationwide, it is not the only case of a leading government official standing up and apologizing to the public for poor work. And some have to resign as the price they pay for their bad decision-making.

All this is the inspiring result of the country's construction of democracy and the legal system.

Apologies and similar actions demonstrate that the construction of a responsible government is no longer just a verbal promise, and the government accountability mechanism is now functioning.

Public apology by government officials, however, is only the first step in the building of a sound accountability system. Any apology will be seriously discounted if no investigative and punitive measures follow.

As far as the Chaohu case is concerned, the public has not been provided with any information on why those government goals were not attained, which departments should be held responsible. and what punishments should be issued.

The key to forging a responsible and credible government lies in clarifying the duties of every government department and official, and being fair and strict in meting out rewards and punishments.

(China Daily February 22, 2006)

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