Many govt orders silly, or even illegal: experts

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/29 19:58:39

Call for improved decision-making processes

Photos: IC

A slogan to encourage couples having a second child in Changde, Central China's Hunan Province. Photos: IC

Experts say a significant amount of official orders and guidance issued by different levels of government are illegal, ridiculous and potentially corrupt, and are calling for more parties' involvement into official decision-making procedures.

In a recent example of ridiculous and illegal guidance, the local government of Yichang, Central China's Hubei Province, urged public servants to give birth to a second child, as to play the model role in encouraging ordinary families to have more children.

The letter, published on the official website of the city's health and family planning commission on September 18, encouraged members of the Communist Party of China and the Communist Youth League of China working in the public sector to follow the two-child policy, calling for "young employees to start with themselves and elderly workers to educate and encourage their children."

The letter also explained the advantages of giving birth to two children and the risks of having only one child.

The city government also pledged to provide benefits such as longer maternity leave, free premarital and gynecological check-ups and counseling for women of a more advanced age.

Some public guidance is merely silly. In 2012, the urban management authority in Beijing issued a decree for managing public toilets which stipulated less than two flies are allowed in one public toilet, Beijing Evening News reported.

Similarly, the government of Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, stated that workers in bare feet should be stung by mosquitoes no more than once per shift, according to the Wuhan Evening News.

Unwise guidance

These official documents issued by local governments serve as the government's tool to manage and supervise society, Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Nowadays, due to the abuse of power, there are many absurd official documents, which are both inappropriate and unwise, and sometimes linked with corruption, said Zhu.

In 2013, Li Rongbiao, chief of the security corps of the public security department in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, was sentenced life imprisonment for taking bribes of 15 million yuan ($2.2 million), the Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to Xinhua, official documents served to help Li, who was in charge of civil detonations on construction sites, to collect illicit money. He benefited some 6 million yuan after he issued official guidance advising the purchase of a particular brand of explosives.

Zhu told the Global Times that many governments issued "reckless" documents without painting the whole picture, causing great losses to society.

For example, in July governments in Haikou and Sanya, both in South China's Hainan Province, issued documents allowing two leading electricity providers in both cities to charge extra maintenance fees to real estate developers, according to news site

Legal experts said the orders violated national regulations which forbid governments from interfering with prices, and also caused a great loss for the real estate developers, reported

Zhu told the Global Times that the government documents only have binding effects to the parties involved, and do not have legal force, yet many people obey the documents even if the orders or guidances are against the law.

The public's blind trust toward power, and a lack of consciousness of protecting their rights, also encourages the issuance of unreasonable official documents, said Zhu.

This is a dangerous trend because it means that government's power has extended beyond proper boundaries, and it will sabotage the government's credibility, said Zhu.

Wang Yalin, an Anhui-based lawyer, told the Global Times that the governments should include the public, professional opinions, risk assessment and validity examinations into their decision-making procedure.

Tackling the problem

In 2014, Fu Ying, the spokesperson for the annual session of the National People's Congress, said that the Standing Committee of the NPC would revise the Administrative Procedure Law to remove obstacles for people to sue the government.

Fu said the revision is to properly channel complaints and reduce visits to the offices of letters and calls, government organs for petitioners to bypass local governments to voice their complaints.

Wang noted that China is now seeking to give people more channels to challenge unreasonable official orders if their legal rights are violated.

Some have utilized these laws. For example, in 2014, 24 firework manufacturers sued the local government of eastern China's Anhui Province for forcing them to close without legitimate reason, Xinhua reported.

The Intermediate People's Court in Hefei, capital of Anhui, ruled that the government's order to close down these factories was illegal, and caused great losses which amounted to 100 million yuan, and ruled the government should compensate 1.8 million yuan to each manufacturer, said Xinhua.

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