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Officials' private time
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It's unreasonable for the government to curb the private life of government officials in order to improve their work efficiency, says an article in Xi'an Daily. Following is an excerpt:

Leshan, a tourism city in Sichuan province, recently banned government officials from "excessive entertainment out of normal eight-hour workdays" for the reason that their work would be affected adversely the day after.

Superficially speaking, this ban sounds reasonable. According to the physiological wiring of human beings, wild nightlife will result in slow mental responses the following day.

So, the bans were implemented to improve the eight-hour workday. But the reality shows that this type of ideal can't be enforced.

First, it's almost impossible to judge whether the entertainment of the previous night was "excessive" or whether it may "affect the normal work the following day". Neither can be calculated.

You can't depend on a ban that lacks a measurable standard.

Second, after-work hours are the free time of government officials to do with what they wish.

Third, if the government really wants to supervise the lives of officials after work, it has to establish a special department to fulfill the task. And this would only be a waste of human resources and taxes.

Therefore, bans on excessive entertainment are doomed.

Supervision during work hours has been quite slack in recent years, allowing lazy officials to get off too lightly, if they are even punished at all.

The key to solve this problem is not to focus attention on the lives of officials after work but to make them perform more diligently in normal hours.

(China Daily April 22, 2009)

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