GUANGZHOU: Internet users once again proved they will leave no stone unturned to expose corrupt government servants, when they published online an investigation report of an overseas "business trip" undertaken by top officials of the Guangzhou Maritime Court earlier this year.
The president of the maritime court surnamed Luo led a group of six officials, including the court's vice-president, surnamed Huang, to a 12-day trip to South Africa, Egypt and Turkey from Jan 7 to 18.
The group spent more than 487,000 yuan ($71,000) of taxpayers' money during the trip.
A netizen posted on tianya.cn, a popular Chinese online forum, an application letter sent from the maritime court to the Guangdong foreign affairs authority asking for an approval to visit overseas countries "to exchange ideas on how to deal with rising judicial maritime issues" along the province's coast.
The unidentified netizen also posted the officials' post-trip report, which was allegedly plagiarized from other published materials.
The post didn't reveal the full name of Luo, but Guangzhou Maritime Court website showed its president's name as Luo Guohua, who took office four years ago.
The post sparked a huge debate online, with angry netizens demanding to know the truth.
"How can the court do this - make up a false report? We want to know the truth. Did they really go to those countries for work or for pleasure?" asked a netizen on tianya.com.
A staff member of the court, who declined to be named, told China Daily: "We are investigating the truth behind the online expose, and will publicize the truth as and when we complete the probe."
The latest scandal has erupted just moths after Tan Rigui, deputy Party chief of Duanzhou district of Zhaoqing, Guangdong province, was sacked in February for leading a group of 13 district officials on a 14-day leisure trip overseas in the garb of a "business tour".
Subsequent investigations revealed the group spent more than 450,000 yuan during their trip to Africa and the Middle East between February and March 2007.
The incident prompted the Guangdong provincial government to issue a ban on official overseas trips without pre-auditing to avoid the misuse of public funds.
Last December, four leaders of a group of 23 officials from Zhejiang province were pulled up for wasting a "business trip" to the United States visiting tourist attractions.