China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Recycling officials: Is it right?

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)

Updated: 2007-01-10 07:21

Xie Zhenhua, former director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), who accepted the blame for a 2005 chemical spill that seriously polluted the Songhua River and resigned, was recently appointed deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner.

Xie is now in charge of environmental protection and energy saving, the new main focus of the NDRC's work, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

Earlier, Ma Fucai, former president of China National Petroleum Corporation, who resigned after an oil well eruption accident in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality in 2004, became a deputy director of the State Energy Office in 2005.

These reappointments have stirred debate on the feasibility and solemnity of the country's current administrative accountability system.

Bi Wenzhang, a column writer with www.cnnb.com.cn:

Xie was blamed for the Songhua River pollution accident and should shoulder his responsibility. To reappoint him one year later shakes the solemnity of the administrative accountability system. Many officials won't take the system seriously in the future.

Zhu Shugu, a national commentator in newspapers and on the Internet:

It is good that the country has its official appointment and accountability systems. There is also nothing wrong with the government reappointing those who have talent. But I suggest that the country establish an effective reappointment system, too, for sacked officials. The new regulation should define a series of terms that sacked personnel should meet first before assuming new roles.

Wang Xiongjun, a PhD candidate in political science at Peking University:

Under the country's administrative accountability system, sometimes high-ranking officials resign even though they are not directly responsible for the accidents. They resign for their own sense of responsibility and to preserve the solemnity of the existing accountability system. But the country is now in dire need of talent, and it is reasonable for the central government to assign new roles to those resigned officials. It has been a common practice in ancient China for those guilty officials to do their part in making up for their mistakes.

Zhou Hui, who works for a government office in Beijing:

The focus of the dispute should be whether the current administrative accountability system is feasible and effective. Having a few high-ranking officials resign temporarily and take the responsibility for some hazardous accidents, many of which are caused by regulative loopholes, simply won't work. I suggest the country first modify its administrative accountability system, punish those who deserve it and use them as examples to impress upon others the need for such a system.

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