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Publicity Officials Criticized for handling of Media During Forced Labor Scandal
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The governor of north China's Shanxi Province has criticized the local publicity department for failing to respond quickly to the media when news of the brick kiln forced labor scandal hit the headlines.

Yu Youjun, formerly the head of the local publicity department in Guangdong, chastised his subordinates for failing to clarify points which appeared in some media reports, and accused some of the reports of being "incorrect".

"Publicity officials should keep track of information from the press, including online media, and respond in a timely fashion to sensitive issues and issues that attract public attention," he said, at a provincial conference on Tuesday on how to prevent further labor abuses.

Last Friday, Yu apologized at a press conference held by the State Council-appointed investigation team, over the forced labor scandal, promising to do everything in his power to tackle the issue.

"We must reflect on the experience, even though it is extremely painful, and we must learn our lesson," he said.

"The brick kiln incident shows that governance of labor practices and the migrant population in some areas, especially in the rural brick and tile kilns, is porous and weak," Yu said.

"The absence of governance, in addition to official misconduct, have made the existence of such labor abuses possible and rampant.

"Government employees should be responsible for allowing kiln bosses and foremen to make the lives of these workers full of blood and tears," he added.

Yu said he had sent 11 teams head up by provincial-level officials to supervise the crackdown on labor abuse. "The teams will go to each county in the next 15 days to check if local authorities have done their job and done their job right," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2007)

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