Unreasonable punishment

Updated: 2014-10-31 08:04

(China Daily)

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Providing invoices for all expenses does not prove that research funds have been spent for the right purposes and vice versa, because cases involving embezzlement of research funds are disguised by legal invoices. Therefore, authorities should make the results of those investigations public to clear people's doubts, says an article on guancha.gmw.cn. Excerpts:

Pan Suiming, a well-known Beijing-based professor of sexology, has received disciplinary sanctions from the Ministry of Education for "non-transparent use of research funds" because he paid sex workers for interviews which contributed to his research but could not account for it because he did not get invoices from them.

Embezzlement of research funds is a form of corruption that exists across the world, including China. Some Chinese researchers in science and technology indulge in such corruption because of the loopholes in the existing supervisory system. Even if the researchers provide enough legal invoices to account for their expenses, the department watchdogs cannot be certain that every penny has been spent for its due purpose.

Pan's research is special in China. Obviously, he cannot get invoices from sex workers whom he has paid for contributing to his work. The reason is simple: sex trade is illegal in China.

More importantly, Pan's research can serve as a valuable reference for the government to prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases in the country.

Pan, by all accounts, appears to be an honest person, because he did not look for invoices to fill the gap in his research expenditure list. Moreover, Pan's research is important for good governance in China. That's why the punishment meted by the Ministry of Science and Technology to Pan for failing to provide invoices from sex workers seems unreasonable.