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I'm being demonized: Father of 'Little Hero'
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The father of a 10-year-old hailed as "Little Hero" for saving the lives of two classmates during the May 12 Sichuan earthquake has been defending himself against critics who claim he is exploiting his son.

I'm being demonized: Father of 'Little Hero'

Lin Dakun, 40, who has reportedly signed a contract with a children's clothes company authorizing the use of Lin Hao's image, said the criticism has become unbearable.

"It is a nightmare to answer phone calls every half-hour questioning me on how I plan to deal with 3 million yuan (he has reportedly made), which I really do not have," Lin Dakun said.

"My wife complains that I signed a stupid contract that brought public criticism rather than income for the family," he added.

Lin said he signed the contract with Topbi Clothing Company with a "strong sense of gratitude" because the firm had donated money and material to support reconstruction work in Shifang, a Sichuan city devastated by the earthquake.

"I am a farmer without too much legal knowledge I neither want to offend the firm nor follow an unfair contract," he said.

In addition to a 50,000-yuan fee for a promotional photo of Lin Hao, the boy's father will reportedly be in charge of the Fujian company's six franchise outlets in Sichuan, with an estimated annual revenue of 600,000 yuan, according to Chengdu Evening News.

A poster carrying a photo of Lin Hao wearing a T-shirt from the company is prominent outside franchise outlets around the country.

A company spokesperson confirmed it had entered into an arrangement with the family.

"We will cover the entire tuition fee for Lin Hao until university, and support Lin Dakun in the running of the six franchise shops," Zhou Xuncai, president of the Fujian-based company, was quoted as saying.

Previously, Lin was the only breadwinner in the family and worked on a construction site for a salary of around 2,000 yuan.

Tian Wanliang, a family friend responsible for their public relations, claimed to have negotiated with the company on behalf of Lin Dakun over details of the contract.

"Little Hero is also a human being. It is Lin Hao's right to promote a brand netizens should stop being critical about Lin Hao," Tian said.

The boy's father, meanwhile, said he does not want his son to become "a commercial star".

Lin said he had turned down several lucrative offers, including one from a chocolate maker promising 500,000 yuan for an endorsement.

Last year, Lin Hao was handpicked to walk with China's NBA superstar Yao Ming at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. The boy also released a CD on the first anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake.

Lin Dakun said Lin Hao's "self esteem" was severely dented following criticism from classmates and their parents, and he urged people to stop the attacks. "My boy might lose friendships at school I hope people help him."

(China Daily June 3, 2009)

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