July 31st, 2012 | Global Times Accidental catch shows shortcomings in anti-graft system
Corruption scandals have been exposed one after another after an unusually expensive promotional film by the Ministry of Railways (MOR) proved a flop, according to media reports.
Caixin.com reported Friday that a couple, both officials at the MOR, were taken away for investigation in early July. More than 10 million yuan ($1.57 million) in cash and at least nine Beijing property ownership certificates were reportedly seized at their home.
The wife, Chen Yihan, was former director general of the publicity department of the MOR and her husband, Liu Ruiyang, was deputy director of the vehicle department.
Chen was involved in the production of the five-minute publicity film for China’s high-speed railway, which cost 18.5 million yuan but failed to achieve its desired effects, as a report by the State Audit Administration earlier pointed out.
Also yesterday, the Economic Information Daily revealed that according to insiders from the company responsible for shooting the film, besides an honorarium of 2.5 million yuan for the director Zhang Yimou and the actual cost of the film, nearly all the remaining 7 million yuan had gone into the pockets of some people involved as “commission.”
Although the officials’ downfall is a good thing, the public are not satisfied with the way they were caught, especially Liu. Many believe his comeuppance was accidental.
The inspectors investigated Chen and found massive amounts of cash. Because it would have been impossible for an official in Chen’s position to make such massive amounts of money through corruption, they turned their attention to her husband. Many joked that the inspectors had caught a big fish while looking for shrimp.
If there is an efficient system for publicizing and supervising the assets of officials, Chen and Liu would have found it hard to hide their abnormal wealth. Unfortunately, such a system is being promoted slowly.
The accidental exposure of corrupt officials cannot boost public confidence in anti-corruption campaigns. Instead, it prompts the public to imagine corruption behind any projects involving large investments. They are worried that if even a five-minute film can involve so much corruption, imagine what shady dealings lie behind projects with hundreds of millions of yuan in investment.
Some governmental purchase and infrastructure construction projects are unusually costly and the officials’ use of power should be questioned.
Anti-corruption efforts cannot depend on luck but must be based on effective precautions, supervision and severe punishment of corrupt officials.
By Yu Jincui