Right the wrongs

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, May 20, 2010
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Training local officials in charge of handling citizens' grievances may seem like a good idea, but it may be a better idea if they are taught to function as effective intermediaries between the people and organs of the State instead of getting instructions on ways to deal with the media.

Citizens resort to "xinfang", either in the form of letters of complaint or personal visits to seek help from higher authorities, in the hope that competent officials will address the wrongs done to them. This has been the favored way of seeking justice.

Although laws to counter injustice are aplenty, the common people favor "xinfang" in the innocent belief that an upright Party leader or government official will be able to better act upon his complaints. The authorities too favor such a system as it saves them from the ignominy of being sued.

Yet, getting one's complaints heard by the right official is never easy. What actually happens is that these "xinfang" establishments, which are tasked specifically to take care of people's complaints, often silence dissent.

With Beijing urging that complaints be settled locally, local authorities have done everything in their power to prevent people from recounting their tragic tales to higher authorities, particularly those in Beijing.

This is a dangerous trend. When courts cannot offer proper solutions, "xinfang" is often the only channel for victims of administrative abuse to get their wrongs addressed.

Most people resort to "xinfang" believing they might get a chance to meet an upright official who will deliver some sort of justice. Yet, they are often stonewalled at "xinfang" offices.

And honesty is the best way to deal with the media.

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