China: Authorities roll out 'Snail Awards' for lazy civil servants
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China has found a rather innovative way to ‘punish’ government officials and civil servants who don’t bring their ‘A’ game to office. In its latest attempt to amend the sloppy and lazy performance of duties by government officials, local authorities in China, according to The Global Times, have come up with a hilarious way of giving ‘snail awards’ and ‘lying-flat-er’ titles to lethargic civil servants.

The Global Times report said the move reflected local governments’ resolve to improve efficiency at work. However, they said it is also important to have effective supervision and a long-term incentive mechanism in place.

In Binhai county, East China’s Jiangsu Province, the first batch of seven ‘lying-flat-ers’ were spoken to on July 26, China News Service reported on Tuesday.

Wang Dawei, a senior local official, said that the awards were voted by residents and colleagues anonymously, and those who got more than 30 per cent of votes were labelled as ‘lying-flat-ers.’

‘Lying flat-er’ refers to those officials who act slowly, ineffectively, and irresponsibly.

Similar lists of negative examples such as the “Snail Awards” have been seen in Central China’s Henan Province and Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, where the officials not only faced public criticism but also had points deducted from their annual performance assessments. 

Hotline numbers and special channels have been opened in these regions to receive supervision and complaints from the public.

Zhu Lijia, a Professor at the National Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Tuesday that such negative lists should be temporary measures, while a positive incentive mechanism should be the long-term plan.

Zhu further added that a comprehensive, scientific, and effective evaluation and supervision mechanism should be built, which includes the performance of job duties and evaluations by the public and colleagues, taking into account not a single criterion but an overall assessment of the person.

While these measures were hailed by Chinese citizens as constructive ways to point out lazy workers in government departments, others questioned whether the criteria for such labels are suitable and specific, worrying that they may mistakenly “harm” innocent workers.

Ma Qingyu, Vice Director, Department of Sociology and Culture at the National Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the term “lying flat” should not simply mean “inaction.”

Qingyu called for an incentive mechanism that will encourage local officials to perform their duties flexibly based on the actual situation.

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