Naked Officials? (裸体做官,luo ti zuo guan)

A recent corruption case has immediately caught the attention of Chinese netizens.

Pang Jiayu, former vice chairman of the provincial political advisory body (the CPPCC of Shanxi province) , was sentenced a 12-year jail and his personal assets worth RMB 200,000.00 was confiscated. Pang's case was widely reported last September because of the saying that he was brought down by his own 11 mistresses (Ernai, 二奶 in Chinese). He was also labelled as 'Zipper Mayor' after the story was exposed.

What makes the case so hot among netizens in China is the fact that Pang's wife and son already immigrated to Canada in 2002 when he was still the party boss in Baoji, a city of Shanxi province, which means he probably had already transferred most of his illicit money to his wife before he was charged of bribery. Netizens have coined the phrase '裸体做官 luo ti zuo guan' (naked officials) to describe such a phenomenon that a corrupted official would arrange his/her family members to immigrate overseas secretly, as a means to mitigate the possible severe effects if he/she is found guilty later on.

Pang's case is not a singular one. In fact, some observers have pointed out that becoming-a-naked-official has evolved into a subculture in Chinese officialdom, and some even characterizes it as 'the more corrupted, the less remorseful officials are'.

Although there is a mechanism within the officialdom to record the personal and family members' assets, lacking transparency virtually creates a lot of loop holes to prevent such phenomenon.

The latest movement to tackle rampant corruption problems by the Chinese authority is to amend the Criminal Law. The report says the legislative body of China is currently reviewing the draft of an amendment, which would add clauses oriented to relatives and people who have 'intimate relations' with corrupted officials, if they abuse the officials' positions to accept bribes or otherwise profit illegally.

A positive step indeed, but allowing media to perform the checks and balances is also quite critical.

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