媒體看中國 | 2011.11.09
Presseschau China in den deutschen Medien 2. DW-Grafik: Per Sander 2010_06_18_presseschau_chinesisch.psd
" 鄒女士不是活動家，她只想投票。她找到居住所在地北京朝陽區政府，那裡沒人知道該拿她怎麼辦，因為一個想登記投票的公民在那裡是不常見的。她每打一個電話就得到一個新的號碼，而電話卻常常沒人接。中國的官員上午只在9點到11點之間才能找到，然後他們有一個長長的午休，下午經常在3點左右才露面，為的是5 點左右可以準時下班。"
中國基層人大代表的選舉，絕大多數是共 產黨提名。但法律有規定個人可以參選，只要10人連署即可登記為「獨立候選人」，這些都和台灣一樣，甚至比台灣還寬鬆。中國選票上還有「另選他人」一欄， 選民可以自行填上自己想選的人的名字。這在台灣是廢票，看起來比台灣進步。由於10人連署輕而易舉，因此這次北京區縣有20多人獨立競選，包括北京外國語 大學副教授喬木及其他幾位大學教師，也成為獨立候選人。這20幾人立刻遭到跟監竊聽，而法律竟然禁止有競選活動，因此獨立候選人一有拜票動作，立即被 公安、便衣包圍。老師們的部落格及微博都被封殺，甚至被叫到警局問話。喬木被扣了一頂「接受外國媒體資助」的大帽子，不但網路被禁，傳單被列成違禁品，堆 在印刷廠無法送出，很像解嚴前的黨外雜誌。此外，喬木身邊出現2名學校保安，監控他的行動。支持他的師生則被找去「關切」警告，不准支持喬木。這些在台灣 絕不會發生。
等某位獨立候選人氣勢漸大，當局就祭出法條：候選人數不得超過應選名額的一倍，由選民小組代表刪去超額者。於是20多名的獨立候選人就從選票上蒸 發消失。自填候選人那一欄也沒人敢填，選民害怕留下筆跡秋後算帳。所以選舉結果沒有任何獨立候選人當選。因為所有的獨立候選人，在投票前就全部被除名。事 實上，獨立候選人的設計是老毛的老梗──「引蛇出洞」，以後他們都將被嚴密監管。這是「中國特色的民主」。對比起來，台灣的民主多麼可愛、可靠、誠實，可以託付選民的終身。朝野要多珍惜啊。
Indian rural welfare
A maverick minister lays into a hallowed programme
Nov 5th 2011 | DELHI | from the print edition
IT LOOKS like risky politics for Jairam Ramesh, who runs India’s biggest civilian ministry, in charge of rural development, to lash out at his own government’s flagship welfare scheme. Mr Ramesh, who got his cabinet post in July, has sparked a row in the past week over corruption and poor results within a public programme that guarantees 100 days of paid work a year for any unskilled rural labourer who wants it.
Sadly, he is only stating the obvious. India’s biggest single welfare project was launched in 2006 and costs over $8 billion a year. Alone, it eats up over 3% of all public spending, and officials say over 50m households last year got some benefit from it. Supporters say it has helped to lift rural wages—on average workers get about 120 rupees ($2.40) a day—which should mean falling poverty. But in many districts, especially poorer ones, huge amounts are stolen or wasted.
In his office in Delhi, listening to Vivaldi, Mr Ramesh criticises “uneven, patchy” implementation of the scheme. He complains about months-long delays in getting workers paid. And he describes wasteful construction of items such as roads that quickly crumble away. The results, in many areas, fall short of the huge sums spent. Mr Ramesh says he has written furiously to all the states’ chief ministers to highlight the deficiencies.
Too much money ends up in crooked officials’ pockets. The gloomiest estimates, such as one by Surjit Bhalla, a prominent economist, suggest two-thirds of funds might be squandered. That looks extreme, but abuse can be crass. In Gonda, a sugar- and rice-farming district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, an anti-graft campaigner, Brijesh Pandey, claims he has tracked how “ongoing scams” divert a quarter of the jobs funds. Common complaints are of officials who pocket wages signed out for non-existent workers.
Mr Ramesh is still a big supporter of the scheme. But he blames state politicians for ignoring or even colluding in “brazen” theft of central funds by officials of the country’s 250,000 panchayats (village administrations), who run it on the ground. His ire is aimed especially against giant Uttar Pradesh. In late October he sent an open letter to its chief minister, Mayawati, saying her administration had ignored 22 demands from monitors in his ministry that she look into graft. He talked of cutting jobs funds for the state or sending in the Central Bureau of Investigation. In truth, neither option is practicable, so Ms Mayawati rebuffed him.
That attack, picking on a high-profile opponent ahead of looming state elections, looks like political opportunism. But at least when Ms Mayawati’s supporters and others dared the minister to take on similar abuse in states run by his own Congress Party, to his credit he did so: on October 29th he accused Maharashtra of rotten implementation of the jobs scheme. Unhappily that state’s politicians, his own political allies, also sent him packing. Internal audits and various investigative teams suggest he could make examples of gross irregularities in over 100 villages in several more states. Other audits are now scheduled to follow.
Why air all this now? Much is about politics. Mr Ramesh, who is close to Sonia Gandhi, the Congress boss, runs a ministry that will dish out huge sums to the poor ahead of elections. He knows urban folk are fed up with Congress over other massive scams and may not be pulled back to the fold. So it will be more pressing than ever to tap huge banks of rural voters. Congress would like the man in the paddy to credit it for rolling out rural welfare—the scheme’s official name, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee, helps with that—but also for fighting graft within it.
Mr Ramesh’s openness, however, could go further, taking on problems beyond corruption. The programme has many supporters, including the World Bank and other international bodies. Poor rural folk like it, a sign that many are indeed getting money. It has brought unexpected benefits to some, including banks: 100m rural Indians have opened accounts so they can receive their wages. And there is tentative evidence of rural lives improving under the scheme, with more land coming under cultivation, dietary habits changing and fewer villagers being forced to leave home in search of work.
Yet even the scheme’s boosters admit to structural flaws. A review published by the ministry in September conceded that the lack of skilled technicians at almost every site, along with rules banning the use of machinery or contractors (labour is usually by shovel), mean that the ponds, roads, drains, dams and other assets are often of wretched quality. The public works do little to better India’s awful infrastructure: many get washed away each monsoon, only to be rebuilt, badly, the following year. Nor are villagers getting together, as had originally been hoped, to decide what they most need to build.
Others grumble more loudly. Private employers, including builders and farmers in Punjab who rely on migrant workers at planting and harvest times, say the scheme pushes up labour costs. And at times workers are simply not available. That may be inevitable, as the most desperate see their incomes rise. More worrying, the jobs scheme gives its workers no skills or training, leaving them as unproductive and ill-equipped for other work as before. Welfare in the villages is welcome; wealth-creating jobs would be better yet.