“123456” Password Leads to Leak of Official Salaries

A Hunan city government’s use of the world’s most common password allowed public scrutiny of its database of officials’ salaries, Global Times’ Wen Ya reports:

Net users were surprised to find the salaries were lower than they expected, with most being in the 2,000 to 4,000 yuan ($330 to $660) per month range. Others pointed out that there would be additional hidden “grey” income – a claim which the local government has denied.

According to a post by Net user “Dancing Angel” in online forum tianya.cn on January 25, one could check all the monthly salaries of civil servants at Lengshuijiang, a county-level city, by entering the password “123456” at the local salary management website.

Zhang Dongfeng, a reporter from the Nandu Daily, said he tried the password on Monday and was able to access all the salary information. But by Tuesday it no longer worked. [Local officials might have upgraded the password to "1234567", the eighth most common, "12345678", the third, or "123456789", the sixth.]

[…] “Civil servants in lower level government agencies surely receive low salaries. But no one knows how much hidden income they have,” Song [Ze of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Finance and Trade Economics] said, noting greater transparency is needed. [Source]

Also at Global Times, Zhang Yiwei reported a nationwide “exodus” of judges, with low pay cited as a leading cause. One 27-year-old outgoing judge from Shandong complained that “I work until I am utterly exhausted, but I make even less than a construction worker”: about 2,000 yuan per month. Last summer, China Media Project translated a Beijing News interview with a former deputy township head in Sichuan who had posted an open resignation letter online. He explained:

Every month my salary was 3,046 yuan, with a housing allowance of 422 yuan a month and phone subsidies of 400 yuan. At the end of the year I could look forward maybe to a performance bonus of several thousand yuan. But every month my son went through at least four packs of diapers at 138 yuan a pack, and four cans of formula at 209 yuan each (total 1,388). I don’t smoke or play cards. I don’t buy my own liquor. I still depended entirely on some support from my parents. [Source]

When officials struggle to make ends meet, bribing them becomes easier and more affordable. One veteran civil servant (making 2,900 yuan a month) recently called for half of all local officials to be fired, and for some of the resulting savings to be used to boost survivors’ pay. His proposal was censored.

February 12, 2014 11:58 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society