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Saturday, 6 August 2011

How should citizens treat the government

Hyperlink to the source text in Chinese: 公民应该怎样对待政府
Translated by @Michae1S, proofread by @krizcpec 

Some people said I am unreasonable as I often criticize the government, I wrote in response an article “Who Exactly Is Unreasonable?”, hoping the public could see that our government is many times more unreasonable than the masses. They use all sorts of propaganda that go every extreme to instill in the public ideas that are in their favor, and suppress any criticism and questions. There is nothing more unreasonable than muzzling dissent voices. Apart from this, I must keep pointing out that criticizing, instead of praising the government is the bounden duty of every citizen. This is more true in China, where the government is not under any real oversight and restrictions. Just like the disaster relief works following the snow storm this year, I couldn't say the government hasn't done anything, yet what it did was far from a job well done. Moreover, officials have evaded issues of human errors in the disaster, and those who neglected their duty have not been duly punished; these are serious disrespect to the dead and the rights of the victims, and a government like this should be criticized nonstop. However, it appears to some individuals that the government is aggrieved, and that the masses have wrongly accused the government of its decades of bad governance. In fact, there is no other race in the world that is more obedient than the Chinese people.

My criticism of the government may not always be right; however, my right to criticize must not be restricted in anyway. But government suppression on criticism from the people has become the norm in this country. Let's just look back, in the past few years, which one has been without cases of people unjustly jailed for their speech? In view of this, I am listing out what I know about the relationship between citizens and the government. Surely this will not all inclusive, so if you think there's anything I've missed, please add your views.

First: Government and citizens should be equal partners in the contractual relationship between the two sides. The government is not the citizens' master, the citizens are not the government's servants. The government should be under public supervision, the citizens should be able to choose their government. If a government does not perform well, the public should have the right to peacefully vote for a new one.

Second: The government is not there for the people to sing it praise, it is there to be supervised by the people. I have written an article on this topic, “The Government Is Not To Be Enshrined (政府不是拿来供着的)”, please have a look. Showing the government their appreciation is not what citizens are supposed to do. It is a government's responsibility to do its job well, it deserves no praise for that. Whereas if a government doesn't do its job properly, then it should be criticized.

Third: Government will not do good voluntarily, the least of all so for an autocratic government which has many systematic flaws and has no supervision. That's because with the many rights in its hand, a government's tendency and the ability to do evil is much stronger than ordinary individuals. In other words, a government, which evil is one that is mighty, should be under multilateral checks and balances.

Fourth: The public should not trust a government that runs its own media to praise itself. It is easily understandable: [a government that does this is] just as laughable as an individual who runs a newspaper that promotes daily how virtuous he or she is and bans others from making criticism. Therefore, the decades old propaganda that portray the Chinese Communist Party as “great, glorious, and correct” is but a brainwashing excuse to stripe the citizens of their interests.

Fifth: It is a government's bounden duty to serve the taxpayers. Don't fool me with political expressions like "serve the people". Because a government without supervision like you can cross me out of your approved list of “people”, and punish me like a counter-revolutionary. Decades of tragedies that have happened to our lives made us acutely aware of this. If you think a government that would only spend the taxpayers' money wastefully and has never really served the taxpayers deserve your praise at the top of your voice nevertheless. Then all I could say is ridiculous.

Sixth: Government is a service institution. Bureaucrats are civil servants, they have no rights to give orders to the public, nor do they have the rights to make the populace live in a particular way. After they have paid the tax, citizens should be served accordingly. The salaries of the government bureaucracy come from taxes, so it is right and justified that the public employees serve the taxpayers properly.

Seventh: Citizens have the right to disobey. They are not a government's yes-persons. They are not the government's slaves. Under the constitution, citizens have the right to say 'no' to the government: they have the right to oppose government's policies, and the right to say no to the government's calls.

Eighth: We must be alert to whatever compliment made to the government. Beneath those compliments, whether they are from organizations or media, is the potential to cause damage to citizens' rights. And officials' self-praise in particular should be questioned and criticized incessantly.

Ninth: Government has no immunity from criticism. I always say that the harm done to society and the public by a government that is not truly supervised and rejects criticism cannot be overestimated. The brutal lives of the past sixty years serve the best footnote to this judgment of mine.

Hastily written at 8:18, February 26, 2008, en route from Shenzhen to Guangzhou

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