A museum of corruption is planned in the southwest province of Sichuan, China Daily reported, citing from a local paper. The museum is seeking nominations from netizens of the 100 most corrupt officials in the last century.
The project is first suggested on the microblog of Fan Jianchuan, founder of the Jianchuan Museum in Chengdu. He said that the museum will accept nominations from the public who can vote on his museum’s website. Criteria for deciding on the top 100 will include the corrupt official’s seniority, amounts involved, by what means, circumstances and impacts on the society.
Fan said he will ask for supports from the Communist Party’s disciplinary committee to turn the initiative into a anti-corruption educational center. He said that exhibitions of corruption organized by party disciplinary committee are very common nationwide, but a museum is yet to be created. He thinks the museum will create a positive effect on the society. He has started to single out ‘corruption artifacts’ from his existing collections, including court verdicts and documents of confession.
The suggestion receives overwhelming responses on the internet. Qian Guilin (钱桂林) thinks that it is a very innovative idea with positive educational impacts:
Victor Hugo said: ‘He who opens a school door, closes a prison.’ Education can have enormous impacts. The power and shock created by a museum is far greater than that of one or two anti-corruption lectures or exhibitions. This can help erect correct values on life and power among Chinese officials.
Meanwhile, Sun Jindong (孙金栋) identifies several flaws in the proposal:
Content wise, how do you decide the top 100? You cannot judge it by the official’s position, amounts involved, method of corruption or even age, since these factors are dynamic. This is unlike historical events like the anti-Japanese or liberation wars, which are static. Therefore, the concept of top 100 is relative; new record-breaking top 100 will appear in future, rendering the description ‘top 100’ meaningless.
Naming wise, why are the ‘top 100’ described as ‘top’ in the first place? They are in essence paper tigers. They abuse their power while in their position as officials. Once arrested, they become prisoners and black spots in history. Why are they described as ‘top’?
Turning to the phenomenon of corruption, Wu Min (吴敏) thinks that the Chinese public is helpless in face of corrupt officials. Building a corruption museum as a kind of ‘black humor’ is all they can do.
One netizen commented that ‘corruption and hidden rules are already part of the Chinese culture. As it is culture, it should be well protected and researched. Building a museum is not enough; we should include it in the United Nation’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.’ I believe that there is some sort of ‘moral short-circuiting’ – there is a lack of justice, fairness and honesty in our society. It is under this circumstance, together with flaws in our social institutions, that leads to widespread corruption.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in March that China is still ‘prone to corruption’ and plagued with ‘unfair law enforcement and inefficient governance’ despite years of anti-corruption efforts. China has issued a code of ethics for officials earlier this year specifying 52 unacceptable practices.