People have right to criticise government, says Wen

March 1st, 2009 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, March 1 (Xinhua) People have the right to criticise government policy and the government also needs to be open and democratic in its policy-making, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here in an online chat with netizens.
“I always think that people have the right to know what the government is thinking and doing, and voice their criticism of government policy,” Wen said Saturday in the Internet forum jointly hosted by the websites of central government and Xinhua News Agency.

He said he was nervous because this was his first ever online discussion with netizens, though he surfed the Internet everyday for 30 minutes to one hour.

“But I will always remember my mother’s words to be sincere with people. I will talk to you with my heart. I will be honest, that is, I will tell you the true situation and listen to your true voices,” he said.

Wen’s chat with netizens came just days before the annual session of the National People’s Congress and that of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.

This year’s sessions, convened at a time when the global financial crisis was spreading, was expected to focus on thorny issues such as escalating unemployment rate, social security, medical care, and corruption.

These issues are also well reflected in the nearly 90,000 questions thrown to Wen in the chatroom from netizens around the country.

A university graduate complained it was too hard to find a job. Netizen “Dingxinwan” wondered what the government will do to rein in soaring housing prices. Netizen “Huamei” complained that officials in his/her hometown were too corrupt. A netizen from Zhejiang province wanted the government to build a paved road in his/her village.

Citing an online poll by Xinhuanet, Wen said he is aware of the fact that corruption is still among netizens’ top concern even as the nation is struggling to cope with the financial crisis.

“Mentioning of anti-corruption, I think the most important thing is to solve defects in our system. Corruption can only be rooted out when power is supervised,” said Wen.

He announced that the government is making “active preparations” for civil servants to declare their properties, a move that has been anticipated for a long time.

Wen said the government has taken measures to ensure people’s participation in major policy-making, for example, public hearings are being held in the drafting of major laws and policies.

Noting that online chat is a good way to communicate with the people, the premier said he is willing to do more such chats in the future.

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