Internet exposes corruption

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, November 27, 2012
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Beibei District's Party Secretary Lei Zhengfu was sacked after he was identified as the person having sex with a young woman in a video which was widely spread on the Internet.[File photo]

Once again we've witnessed the Internet's prowess as the people's tool against abusive officials.

There was a mere 63-hour interval between the appearance of a micro blog with a video link and corresponding still images showing Lei Zhengfu having sex with a teenage mistress to his dismissal from his position as a district Party chief in Chongqing.

A lot happened in those dramatic hours. Lei at first denied the accusation and said the images were photoshopped, then he tried to negotiate with the source; local authorities launched a probe, confirmed the authenticity of the images and that Lei was the man in the video, then they announced his dismissal.

We have seen this before. In September, micro blog posts showing Shaanxi official Yang Dacai wearing multiple luxury watches led to a corruption probe and his downfall. In October, a blog revealed Guangdong official Cai Bin had dozens of homes, which resulted in a probe.

We cannot but be impressed by the efficiency the authorities have displayed in their response, particularly in Lei's case. That is exactly what people want to see in the real-life struggle against corruption.

Thanks to its democratic nature and incomparable efficiency and effectiveness in disseminating information, the Internet has become a popular platform where the otherwise voiceless can speak out. Rumors about Lei's philandering and corruption have been around for years locally, but a probe had not been launched until the sex video was posted online, which is fresh evidence of the Web's efficacy in prompting action.

For its proven role in exposing corruption alone, the Internet is worth being embraced by the country's corruption busters as a close ally. We have seen plenty of examples where online postings have pre-empted official discipline watchdogs and law-enforcement departments. The Internet has become a reliable last resort when people's complaints about abuse are ignored.

As for Lei's scandal, more evidence points to increasingly entangled corruption. The mistress in the video turned out to have been hired by a building contractor. Strangely, the mistress was once detained and the contractor jailed for blackmailing Lei. What had happened?

And the probe should not end there.

The source responsible for Lei's disgrace claims he holds similar evidence of misconduct by several other major local officials. Who are they? Are they all victims of blackmail? Why?

These are crucial questions waiting to be answered.


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