BEIJING, July 13 (Xinhuanet) --Two sacked local officials have been appointed to new posts by local authorities less than one year after their removal, a chief judge from Central China's Hubei province said, questioning the effectiveness of the system of accountability.
Zhong Ming, former Party committee secretary of Hubei's Shishou city, and Tang Dunwu, former director of Shishou public security bureau, have been appointed to new positions less than a year after being removed from their previous posts for mishandling a mass incident, Liao Mantang, chief judge of Jingzhou district court in Hubei's Jingzhou city, said at an academic forum on social conflict and public security in Beijing on Sunday.
Zhong has been appointed deputy secretary-general of Jingzhou Party committee, while Tang has been appointed deputy director of Jingzhou development zone, the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post quoted Liao as having said on Monday.
"Barely a year after they were sacked, the two officials have resumed government posts of the same rank as their former posts, which means the system of accountability will have no deterrent effect on other officials," Liao was reported to have said.
Zhong and Tang were sacked on July 25, 2009 for improper decision making in handling a mass incident triggered by a local chef's death.
A 24-year-old cook, Tu Yuangao, was found dead at the gate of a hotel in Shishou on the evening of June 17. Police concluded the man had killed himself by jumping from a high building. However, Tu's family and the public were not convinced and rumors surfaced online.
The Shishou authorities did not act for over three days, which resulted in the rumors spreading unchecked and public unrest erupted when thousands of angry locals obstructed two streets, burnt the hotel and destroyed several vehicles.
"We are not sure whether the two officials have been appointed to new posts," said Xiong Gaoxin, director of the publicity office of Jingzhou Party committee.
However, a senior official from Jingzhou city government who only gave a surname Zou due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Zhong and Tang "have yet to be officially appointed to the new posts, but have begun to work in the government office building like they have taken the posts".
The system of accountability was implemented nationwide following an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Since then, a number of officials at different levels of government have either resigned or been sacked in the wake of a variety of public scandals or accidents.
"The system is good, but it is sad that many sacked local officials soon take new posts, either secretively or officially, which is a problem across the country," said Li Chengyan, a professor with the school of government at Peking University.
"Central government authorities should do something now, otherwise the system will become useless," he said.
Resigned or sacked officials from the Party or government agencies are not allowed to be reinstated to posts of the same rank as their former posts within a year, according to the interim provisions on the system of accountability for officials, which was released by the general offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council in July 2009.