Jailed director plans novel on bureaucracy

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, October 14, 2009
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Zhou Jiugeng, a former official dubbed the "Super Expensive Cigarette Director" who was sentenced on Saturday to 11 years in prison for accepting bribes, is planning a novel about bureaucracy while in detention.

Zhou, from Nanjing of Jiangsu province, is unlikely to appeal but has until Oct 21 to make a decision to the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court, said his attorney Jin Hui yesterday.

He said Zhou will be sent to prison at the end of this month if he decides to forego an appeal.

Zhou, the former director of the real estate management bureau in Jiangning district in Nanjing, came under fire late last year when he told reporters on Dec 10 that real estate developers should be punished for selling apartments below cost.

He was dismissed from his post on Dec 28 for the remarks and apparently for his luxurious lifestyle, revealed through online photos later that month.

In the photos, Zhou wore a Vacheron Constantin watch with a retail cost of at least 100,000 yuan (US$16,000). He was also photographed with a pack of Nanjing 95 Imperial Cigarettes, which cost about 150 yuan a pack.

Zhou was convicted of taking bribery of 1.07 million yuan and HK$110,000 (US$14,000) from contractors and subordinate officials. The court also confiscated 1.2 million yuan (US$176,000) worth of personal property from Zhou.

Appeal aside, Zhou's mind is now filled with thoughts of writing a novel that reflects how officials toil in bureaucracy. He has written 35,000 words so far in his temporary holding cell, but a title has not been finalized. Zhou said conditions in the jail are incongruous for writing: He has only one bed and no desk to write on.

Jin said Zhou has been calm in detention. No drinks, no banquets and entertainment have helped lower his blood pressure but he still misses cigarettes, one thing that helped reveal his corruption online.

Experts said Zhou's case showed the Internet has become an important medium to fight corruption.

At the beginning of this year, the price of Nanjing 95 Imperial Cigarettes dropped by 33 percent to 100 yuan per pack in the provincial capital. Despite the dramatic drop in price, Nanjing 95 Imperial Cigarettes do not sell well in the city's downtown. But in the suburb areas, such as Baixia district, the decreased price has attracted more smokers, according to a cigarette store owner surnamed Jiang in the district.

The court said the 49-year-old was given the lenient sentence for confessing to prosecutors and handing over the bribe money on his own.

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