Southern Weekend on How to Deal with “Naked Officials”

Danwei translates an editorial from Southern Weekend which summarizes the debate over whether so-called naked officials, who have sent their wives and children to live abroad, should be assumed to be corrupt and therefore removed from his post:

On April 23rd, the Politburo of the Central Committee discussed strengthening supervision over “naked officials.” A “naked official” is an official whose wife and kids have left China to live in a foreign country, leaving only him behind to take care of things at home. “Naked officials” have attracted such attention because they’ve been involved in so many classic corruption cases and have become a model of corruption. Given this, should the country adopt a strict “one size fits all” policy against “naked officials”?

Those against: The “presumption of innocence” is the guiding principle of a society ruled by law. Without evidence or proof that a “naked official” used his power for personal gain, he is no different from a regular person, and is entitled to the same legal rights and benefits. If someone were fired just because he’s a “naked official,” it would be a classic violation of a citizen’s legal rights.

Those in favor: People who hold public office are limited in ways that ordinary citizens are not. For example, officials must regularly make public their personal finances, and sometimes even the finances of their family members. Moreover, officials’ public activities – and a few private ones – are not protected by the right to privacy. Officials are not ordinary people. If you hold public power you must give up some private rights.

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