Tighter property inquiry rules slammed

By Liu Sha Source:Global Times Published: 2013-2-19 0:08:01

Recent rules aimed at tightening inquiries on housing information in some cities have ignited criticism that the measures protect corrupt officials from having to disclose details of their property, despite the authorities' explanation that the measures are aimed at protecting personal information.

In Zhangzhou of East China's Fujian Province, local authorities Saturday regulated that information on a property could only be retrieved by the owner, public security departments, local procuratorates and qualified lawyers.

"The stricter accessing requirements don't help cover up corruption, but protect personal information," an official surnamed Zhang from the press office in the housing administration bureau in Zhangzhou told the Global Times.

The new measures topped the hot topic list on Monday on Sina Weibo as Web users claimed the aim of the rules is not simply to protect private information but to help cover up traces of corruption.

In an online poll conducted by sohu.com in which over 14,000 Web users participated, over 90 percent opposed the stricter rules and saw them as being likely to protect illegal assets. Another survey conducted by qq.com showed that the majority of Web users do not think the officials' property is subject to personal privacy protected by law.

Meanwhile, both Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, and Beijing governments have tightened rules for inquiries on housing information, local authorities confirmed to the Global Times Monday.

Similar regulations were implemented in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province in eastern China in late January.

 "We have encountered several cases since 2011 in which some of our bureau staffers have sold people's property information to real estate agents and advertisers," a media spokesman from Guangzhou Municipal Land Resources and Housing Administration Bureau told the Global Times, adding that they have received complaints from citizens of being bothered by agents.

Local officials from the Guangzhou housing administration bureau admitted that the tighter rules are somewhat related to cases of corrupt officials possessing multiple houses, Nandu Daily reported on Monday.

In October, a staffer inside the bureau leaked the property details of Cai Bin, an official who owned 22 houses and received bribes.

Liu Junhai, professor of law at the Renmin University of China, said that people were not angry about the protection of privacy, but were afraid that the government would use that as an excuse.

"To ease these doubts, officials' property should be disclosed promptly and checked by the public," Liu told the Global Times, adding that the public has been waiting for a mechanism requiring officials to disclose their assets after a series of multiple property owners turned out to be corrupt.

Shixing county, Nansha New District of Guangzhou and the Hengqin New District of Zhuhai city announced in January that some officials would be selected to join the asset disclosure pilot program, the Xinhua News Agency reported. In Shixing, 526 officials will declare their assets and make them known to the public after Spring Festival.



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