Even If the Mayor Transforms Into An Octopus . . .

David Bandurski from China Media Project writes on a story appearing in The Shanxi Daily on October 4, 2008. The story details the mayor of Changzhi giving out namecards so residents can call the mayor and the Party secretary to report on work safety issues, purportedly as a part of openness by the state and “Changzhi’s New Deal” (长治新政). However, there is doubt this is true or possible:

It is also worth nothing that internet users have been circulating a purported “notice” from party leaders in Changzhi saying the 960,000 figure reported by Shanxi Daily was incorrect, and that only 96 namecards were distributed. Xinhua claims to have debunked this story. They report confirming with someone at the party’s office in Changzhi that they had indeed distributed 960,000 cards, “10,000 to officers of the Public Security Bureau, 50,000 to coal miners, 100,000 to city residents and their families, and 800,000 to families in the countryside.”
In today’s Southern Metropolis Daily, blogger and columnist Wu Yue San Ren (五岳散人) offers his own perspective on the namecard story.

“If the mayor morphs into an octopus he’ll still be swamped”

The mayor of Shanxi’s Changzhi City (长治市) publicized his own telephone number, and says he printed 960,000 copies of his personal namecard to distribute to city residents, so that they can inform him of hidden production safety issues. As soon as word got out, this became a red-hot focus in the news. Many praised the action for placing the focus on the popular voice, and some went so far as to call it “Changzhi’s New Deal” (长治新政). But there are many reasons for taking issue with his actions, and my reasons are very simple: even if leaders morph into octopi they cannot possibly answer every phone call, so this gesture is worthless.

Here’s what I’m thinking. A place as big as Changzhi is most certainly going to see countless problems, and even if you went through the days without eating or sleeping you couldn’t possibly answer all of those calls. So in the end this phone number is entirely for show. You think, perhaps, that the mayor is manning the phones? Even if he grew eight hands he couldn’t answer them all. And if he has a secretary answering calls on his behalf, how is this any different from listening to the daily reports that reach his desk? These are all materials that have gone through a vetting process. The mayor . . . cannot by such means ensure his city is well-governed. He must be a good city manager, and his responsibility is to delegate specific tasks to others, not to go himself and sweep the streets clean.

Tashan Mine Landslide in Xiangfen County under Linfen City in Shanxi Province/Xinhua photo

Tashan Mine Landslide in Xiangfen County under Linfen City in Shanxi Province/Xinhua photo

Shanxi province has been the site of many work safety issues involving landslides and mining accidents this year and can be read on CDT.

Read another post by Wuyuesanren (五岳散人) on CDT.


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