Investigation underway into controversial job appointments in south China county

13:52, April 11, 2010      

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Local government investigators are probing the official appointments of a south China county government after an Internet posting indicating excessive job changes drew suspicion.

No evidence of illegal appointments in Lingshan County government had been found so far, but investigations would continue, said Zhong Shiyan, a spokesman with the investigation team from Qinzhou City, which has jurisdiction over Lingshan.

An online post, citing government website bulletins, revealed Lingshan County issued 1,705 files on official job changes in three years, most of which were appointments.

The post spread quickly and became a heated topic on all major Chinese portals and forums, stirring a public debate over whether the county had too many officials and whether the appointments were lawful.

"The number of officials in Lingshan County is in line with laws and regulations. There are no redundant personnel in the government departments," said Pan Shenkao, head of human resources in the county.

Lingshan, with a population of 1.3 million, had 912 county department level officials, including heads and senior workers of 219 government departments, townships and other government-run entities, Pan said.

The number of department level officials who were not actual leaders of government departments varied from county to county. It was normal for a county to have this number of department level officials, he said.

Officials in charge of county hospitals, schools and enterprises were also on the department rankings of the county, Pan said.

Of the 189 government department head or deputy head posts, 178 were occupied, leaving 11 vacancies, Pan said.

Lingshan has 28 government departments and 18 townships, according to the county website.

The number of appointment files did not equal the number of officials appointed, Pan said.

A county government official could also hold posts in the local Communist Party committee, the local legislature or political advisory body. One personnel change often involved several files from different organs, Pan said.

The actual number of files of official job changes issued in the past three years in Lingshan was 1,591.

He attributed most of the reshuffles to elections, employment trials, organizational reforms and officials from higher governments transferring to temporary posts in the county to gain grassroots experience.

A normal county government would have around 60 to 70 departments and townships with 150 to 200 leaders, said Zhu Lijia, a scholar with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

"When I first got here, I had three appointments: head of the county new rural communities construction team, a standing member of the county Party committee and deputy county head," said Fang Daoqiang, who was transferred from Qinzhou City in March.

Lian Yaolian, 59, Party head of Lingshan's finance department, said, "Personnel changes are not very frequent in Lingshan." Lian had worked as the director and Party head of the county construction department for nine years before taking up his current post.

Initial investigations showed some of Lingshan's government departments lacked professional talent, Zhong said.

The county claimed it planned to openly advertise across China for applications to fill deputy head posts in its construction, industry and information technology, and reform and development departments, he said.

Lingshan is the third local government this year to draw public attention over its appointments.

On March 12, Wang Yali, a former member of the municipal committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province, was arrested for forging documents to obtain government jobs.

Wang allegedly faked all her personal information, including name, age, education and work experience, except her gender.

Internet postings ridiculed Wang's resume, which showed that she was a pharmacist in an army hospital at the age of 12.

Despite the obviously problematic forgery, Wang had been rapidly promoted to become senior city official from 1998 to 2007.

In early February, Xintai city, in eastern Shangdong Province promoted six people born in the 1980s to deputy department heads, an action that drawn national controversy.

Internet users doubted if the post-1980s staff were experienced enough for the jobs and suspected illegal intervention in the promotions, which Xintai government insisted were lawful.



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