Sound governance requires effective interaction

08:58, June 03, 2011      

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Public demands are increasingly diverse in today's China, with frequent public questions for government. The response capacity of government at all levels has become a major factor in evaluating the level and concept of their governance.

Recent news has offered two opposite cases. The Palace Museum has been reluctant to face a theft and its ill practice before giving unsatisfactory replies to public doubts. In contrast, the Guangzhou Metro Corporation proactively gave responses three times within a week to a question raised by a middle school student regarding the budget of project and also met with the student, which was highly praised by the public.

The Guangzhou Metro Corporation is superior to the Palace Museum in terms of response capacity because the city of Guangzhou has previously handled public participation of state affairs several times. Governments cannot improve their awareness of respecting public rights without often facing petitions and doubts.

Thanks to the requirements of openness, timeliness, accuracy and transparency specified by the central government, many principal cadres have reached a consensus with the public over recent years when it comes to public interaction. "It is unnecessary to be overly sensitive to criticism or questions and even regard them as disharmonious factors to hide and oppress. They cannot use trickery as 'crisis management' in order to evade responsibility." Such a consensus can enhance the level and concept of governance for governments at all levels.

Findings from an investigation provided by the local government on the "South China Tiger Incident" in Shaanxi province several years ago was constantly questioned by the public for two years. The local government's passive approach to deal with the incident not only consumed enormous social costs but also considerably undermined the credibility of the local government. Since then, local governments have gradually accelerated the pace of responses, improved response attitude and adjusted response methods over recent years.

The transformation from reactive to proactive and from passive to active as well as every small progress has become a powerful fulcrum to move forward the resolution of incidents and the improvement of governance capability.

Local governments of 17 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have issued directives for government officials to actively respond to the advice and suggestions of netizens. Responding to the people's demands is changing from "optional" into "compulsory."

There is a popular misconception that good governance can only be achieved through suppressing objections and sweeping sensitive issues under the carpet. In fact, it is normal to see contradictions, conflicts and disagreements in this crucial stage of reform and social transformation when various forces are looking for channels to communicate and settle disagreements. Dialogue is better than confrontation.

A basic principle of modern administration is that government officials should try to improve their governing capacity and form a harmonious interaction with the public by listening to the voice of the people and actively responding to their questions.

In the eyes of the public, readily accepting good advice and correcting mistakes immediately are much more practical and respectable than never making any mistakes. Facts over the past years have proven that as long as a government department can take people's feelings into consideration and respond to public demands in a timely fashion, the harmonious interaction will undoubtedly increase the public trust in the department. In this regard, public opinions and media supervision are the Party and government's valuable governing resources.

Government officials should always keep abreast of public opinions, dispel public concerns through transparency, and win the hearts and minds of the people by quickly and gladly correcting mistakes and sincerely protecting the interests of the public. A harmonious interaction with the public will help the government improve social governance and introduce new governing practices.

By People's Daily Online
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