Official blocks news to hide scandal: report
Updated: 2012-10-10 20:04
KUNMING - A high-ranking official in Southeast China's Fujian Province has reportedly blocked a newspaper from publishing a story implicating him as corrupt, local media reported on Wednesday.
The report instantly sparked wide discussion online as a similar case recently brought down another official in Shaanxi province amid the country's increasing muckraking by social media.
The Fujian official, rumored to be Li Dejin, head of the province's Department of Transportation, stopped the Metropolitan Times of South China's Yunnan province from publishing an article about him wearing a 50,000-yuan ($7,950) Rado watch and a Hermes leather belt worth 15,000 yuan.
The case was revealed by Zhou Zhichen, editor-in-chief of the Metropolitan Times, who posted a message on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog, saying he was both angry and ashamed because hundreds of thousands of copies of the paper were withdrawn because of "someone behind the curtains from far away."
Wang Keqin, an assistant to the Economic Observer's editor-in-chief, later provided more detail on the story via Sina Weibo. Wang's post has been forwarded over 100,000 times on Sina Weibo within two days.
The journalist said in a comment that the role of media is to expose, reveal and broadcast, and that is where its power lies.
"The Internet is becoming a public media for all people, and a most powerful weapon for public supervision," Wang wrote on Sina Weibo.
Li has refused an interview request from Xinhua. A source with the Department of Transportation of Fujian said it is not an appropriate time for the department and Li himself to respond to the rumors.
The scandal over Li's wearing of luxury items follows that of Yang Dacai. Two months ago, a netizen posted pictures of Yang, a senior work safety official in Shaanxi Province, wearing expensive watches, customized glasses and bracelets on various public occasions.
He was dismissed in late September and further investigation is under way.
An Internet user with the screen name of "Yazhidaren 007" said the government should look into the case so as to find out the truth behind the so-called luxury scandal.
Others are concerned about whether Li's watch and belt are really luxuries and if he purchased the stuff with legally earned income.