By Allen Ai and Kenneth Tan
Government officials are more tolerant than members of the public when it comes to the “naked officials” phenomena, according to a new report, “Rule of Law Blueprint 2012”, by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). The term “naked officials” refers to civil servants whose spouses and children have all migrated abroad.
The survey was conducted among 1,400 civil servants and 1,500 members of the public in 23 provinces over the course of a year.
38.9% of civil servants considered it acceptable for government officials to have spouses with foreign nationalities or resident abroad. In contrast, 34.2% of members of the public found this to be acceptable.
Researchers also found that the higher the seniority of a civil servant, the more likely he or she was to find the idea of “naked officials” acceptable.
However, among members of the public, the more highly educated someone was, the more likely he or she was to find “naked officials” unacceptable.
Another significant finding of the survey was that a third of civil servants and members of the public did not have an opinion whether “naked officials” were acceptable or not.
This, said the CASS researchers, was indicative of the low general awareness among people of the threat of “naked officials” to national interest.
While stricter rules and regulations were needed to manage the phenomena, openness and transparency were also imperative, added the researchers.
They recommended releasing an annually updated list of officials whose spouses and children have moved abroad.
Between the beginning of the period of reform and opening up in 1978 and 2003, approximately 4,000 corrupt officials have fled the mainland, taking more than $50 billion with them, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
In a much talked about move in January, Guangdong province passed new rules which stipulated that “naked officials” would henceforth no longer be appointed to “important” or “sensitive” leadership positions.