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Online muckraking of luxurious official continues

Updated: 2012-09-07 14:33
( Xinhua)

XI'AN - Internet users in China are continuing their muckraking campaign against a luxuriously-accessorized work safety official seen with a broad smile on his face at the site of a fatal bus crash last week.

Web user "chenxiweibo" has posted four recent photos of Yang Dacai, head of the work safety administration of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, wearing several different pairs of designer glasses.

The photos, posted Thursday at weibo.com, China's Twitter equivalent, show Yang in a pair of German-made LOTOS, one of the world's most expensive eyewear brands.

At Puyi Optical, a leading Hong Kong-based eyewear dealer that has outlets in several cities including Beijing and Dalian, LOTOS frames alone sell for at least 138,000 yuan ($21,804).

In another two photos, Yang was spotted wearing glasses from the less-expensive Oakley brand.

Yang first came into the spotlight and infuriated the public by grinning at the scene of a deadly collision between a double-decker sleeper coach and a methanol tanker that left 36 dead.

His apparent lack of sympathy kicked off the muckraking storm that is still swirling around him, as Chinese web users have taken to scrutinizing his luxury wristwatches, designer belts and high-end suits.

Photos taken on different occasions show Yang wearing 11 different upscale watches, the most expensive of which was valued at 400,000 yuan, according to netizens.

Yang claims he bought the watches with his own salary, but web users refuse to believe him, arguing that a government employee could not afford such luxuries.

On Saturday, a college student filed an application to the financial department of the Shaanxi provincial government, demanding that Yang's salary from last year be disclosed to the public.

"Yang should publish his income to prove he can afford all those expensive watches," said Liu Yanfeng, a student from China Three Gorges University, based in Yichang, Hubei province.

In an interview with Xinhua Thursday, Xi'an-based finance official Zhou Jianguo said Liu's application had not been received. "We'll decide whether to disclose Yang's salary upon receipt of the written request."

Meanwhile, "yanqinglaonong," a Weibo user as well as a verified as a Deloitte auditor, posted seven more pictures showing Yang's designer belts.

Within 30 hours, the post was forwarded over 10,000 times and received 4,000 comments, mostly attacking his luxury goods and speculating over who may have bribed him.

Public attention also focused on his custom-tailored Armani suit, which can cost 10,000 to 50,000 yuan at Beijing stores.

In sharp contrast to web users' enthusiastic muckraking spree, authorities have largely remained silent on Yang's case.

On Tuesday, Shaanxi's anti-graft body denied online rumors that Yang had been detained for investigation.

The online muckraking of Yang shows that the Internet is playing an increasingly important role in bringing hidden conflicts to the surface, said Prof Yu Guoming, director of the Institute of Public Opinion of Beijing-based Renmin University of China.

"Yang's case is not just the problem of an individual official, " said Yu. "It should be taken as a warning to all government employees."

He said the properties declaration system for civil servants, the power of Internet supervision and the enforcement of regulations and the law should work together to restrict the power of government officials, as well as curb corruption among the team of civil servants and force them to live up to their duties and obligations.

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