Independent body better to fight corruption
Corruption among officials remains a serious problem, and it is not just officials at the grassroots level in China. As the efforts intensify, some senior officials have been investigated and prosecuted for corruption, and the amount of money involved has been staggering. The seemingly never-ending stream of corruption scandals is fuelling increasing public anger.
Why is corruption still such a serious problem in China? One of the most important reasons must be the deficiencies in the existing anti-corruption system, which prevent the anti-graft agencies from fulfilling their duties to their full potential. There are two main loopholes, the agencies’ lack of independence and the dispersion of anti-corruption power.
Supervision must be independent of the power it supervises. Nobody can effectively supervise their boss. However, in the current anti-corruption system, local anti-graft agencies are subject not only to higher supervising agencies, but also to the local government and local Party leaders as well. This means people specialising in anti-graft work have to follow the orders of, and write reports to, local leaders who are supposed to be under their supervision as well.
Being subject to local government leaders, the members of anti-graft agencies also depend on local leaders for their promotion and welfare, making themselves vulnerable to the intervention of higher power. Each of these agencies has powers to fight corruption, yet for all of them their power is incomplete and their powers do complement one another; worse, their duties and powers contradict each other. The various agencies should be integrated into one big anti-corruption agency that can conduct investigations and prosecutions independently. A good example of an independent agency and its powers is the Independent Commission Against Corruption in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Founded in 1974, the commission is headed by a commissioner who is directly responsible to the Chief Executive of the HKSAR government, thus ensuring its independence from all other powerful departments; it is also granted full power to investigate corruption cases without the help from other branches.