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Officials face sack for bad public work
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Local government and Communist Party of China (CPC) officials can be sacked from their posts or expelled from the CPC for their poor handling of public grievances.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the CPC's top discipline watchdog, the ministries of supervision, and human resources and social security, as well as the State Bureau of Letters and Calls (SBLC) issued two rules Thursday to check local officials' heavy-handed tactics.

Those who abuse police force and weapons to solve public disputes face severe punishment, too, the rules say.

Issued amid the top leadership's growing concern over social unrest, the rules are aimed at making government staff handle public complaints properly.

They say government or CPC officials could be hauled up for mishandling major public grievances in a dozen situations, especially if they snowball into mass incidents. Such situations include delay in handling, neglecting or taking a hard line toward public complaints, cheating superiors in certain cases and implementing policies that are against public interest.

The rules say those who use police power and weapons randomly, abuse police equipment or adopt coercive measures will be given demerit points, demoted or even sacked.

This is the first time the central authorities have announced administrative as well as Party-level penalties for an offence, CCDI Vice-minister Zhang Huixin said.

Zhang Enxi, deputy head of the SBLC, said the new rules would help regulate his bureau's work and give it a legal backing.

The rules come in response to a series of mass incidents, arising from a wide range of issues, such as illegal land seizures, judicial injustice, non-payment of salary and corrupt practices of officials, which created tension and even led to clashes between the public and policemen and/or government officials.

Early this month, the CPC chief and the head of Weng'an county in Guizhou province were sacked after a dispute over the cause of a girl's death snowballed into a mass incident.

Thousands of people in the county marched on the streets and torched government buildings and vehicles.

Significant changes have taken place in society because of which officials and CPC members have to change their way of handling public grievances, said Yang Shiqiu, vice-minister of human resources and social security.

Some of the government staff lack the necessary legal knowledge, and always take a hard line toward the people, Yang said. The new rules will make them change their attitude and mindset.

Zhang Enxi said the number of public complaints being filed is still "substantial". The rising number of social discontent cases is putting more pressure on the central leadership to review the governance model, and ask CPC members and government staff to pay more attention to public opinion.

The central leadership has already ordered the CPC chiefs of 2,300 counties to try and redress people's grievances.

(China Daily July 25, 2008)

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