Look behind promotions of Chinese officials

Look behind promotions of Chinese officials
Former deputy head of China's top planning agency, The National Development and Reform Commission, Liu Tienan is seen during his trial at the Intermediate People's Court in Langfang, Hebei province, in this still image taken from video shot on September 24, 2014.

So, Liu Tienan, the disgraced former chief of the national energy administration and deputy director of the national development and reform commission, is not one of a kind.

Like the rise and fall of many other corrupt officials caught in the past, Liu's upward trajectory of decay was coupled with corruption.

The indictment shows that between 2002 and 2012, Liu took almost US$6 million (S$7.6 million) in bribes for behind-the-scenes brokering on behalf of corporate interests. In return, he and his family received a car, a villa, cash, and company shares.

Considering the bargaining chips in his hands - the authority to make or break a local industry or company or project, as well as the prevalence and rampancy of rent-seeking in Chinese officialdom - US$6 million really isn't that big a deal for a man in his position. At least that is what many might choose to believe.

Indeed, corruption on this scale hardly raises an eyebrow these days. Especially after the shocking revelations that officials with much less administrative authority have embezzled much more.

More importantly, since his corruption has been brought into the daylight and the court proceedings have been broadcast live, the only suspense appears to be how many years Liu will get behind the bars.

Everything might seem to be done and dusted then, aside from the sentence, when justice will finally be done.

However, since Liu, as is true of all other corrupt officials, committed his offences as he rose through the ranks and the offices of power, there is a lot more to his case. And one significant aspect that has persistently been left aside should no longer be.

It is embarrassing to even acknowledge that Liu and many others who have been caught in the anti-corruption net were repeatedly promoted to higher offices while each time abusing the power they had in hand.

Even from the perspective of plugging possible holes in the system of official appointments, the authorities should conduct careful reflection and examinations.

Everyone knows where to begin with: Who were behind Liu's promotions? And why?

Theoretically, the Communist Party of China's organisational authorities have strict rules and procedure for official appointments. Appointments are supposed to be both "scientific" and "democratic". What went wrong in the case of Liu and others like him? And is anyone responsible?

These shouldn't forever be mysteries. They are not just intra-Party affairs.

 

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