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Supervising staffs' behavior after work must not go too far

China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-13 07:45

Supervising staffs' behavior after work must not go too far

A Chinese doctor talks with family members of a young patient as he examines him with a Type-b Ultrasonic Diagnostic Instrument at a hospital in Beijing, China, 11 September 2013. [Photo/IC]

A nurse in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou province, was given a warning by her employer and fined three months' performance salary as penalty, after she was found playing mahjong in the hospital canteen after work. Beijing News commented on Saturday:

What happened to the mahjong-playing nurse and her supervisors, who also received a penalty, has stirred debate about what recreational activities those holding public positions are allowed to engage in after work. If the nurse was gambling that is illegal, and a punishment is justified. But if she was just having some harmless fun, as some conclude from the hospital's statement, then her punishment was undeserved.

Of course, the truth remains to be seen, but the hospital needs to elaborate on the "very bad" influence the nurse has had on its image, if she was not gambling.

What the nurse has done does not deserve any harsh moral judgment if her playing mahjong was not in the hospital canteen, which was an inappropriate venue even if she was not gambling, and did not affect her work performance.

Proper, targeted supervision of public employees is called for, but interfering with employees' leisure time is not. Boundaries to behavior do have to be drawn, but only to avoid the abuse of public power.

Keeping supervisory power in check not only shows due respect to civil rights, but also adds to the credibility and authority of public power itself. A public notice criticizing three teachers in East China's Fujian province, who were said to have violated regulations by purchasing vegetables from unauthorized street vendors last year, was withdrawn after triggering a public outcry.

Local authorities should draw inspiration from incidents like these instead of repeating past mistakes.

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