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(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-12 07:44

State of fire safety a farcical situation

Comment on "Giant blaze consumes luxury hotel" (China Daily, Feb 10)

The front-page story about the fire tragedy and subsequent news of the death of a fireman are indeed shocking, but very regrettably not at all surprising.

From my own experience I want to say in many places of Beijing there is very little regard for fire safety.

For instance, in the building where I live the fire extinguisher cabinets are kept locked and about half of the fire and smoke prevention doors are damaged or held open by some makeshift device.

After complaining in vain for over three years to the property management department, I wrote twice to the authorities concerned. Eventually, with the help of a local lawyer, we made a meeting on site together with the property management department and the local firefighter officer.

Their response was to suggest that I put up a poster exhorting my neighbors to close the fire doors. One door, out of about 50 damaged ones, was repaired, but nothing else has changed. They confirmed the policy of keeping fire extinguisher cabinets locked because they claimed the brass fittings inside would otherwise be stolen. The state of the building is still "an accident waiting to happen".

My colleague witnessed the fire in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. He said within half an hour the fire spread to engulf the entire hotel.

This begs the questions: why were the installed fire prevention systems, such as sprinklers, apparently not effective? And how come such a hotel was used during the 2008 Beijing Olympics?

It seems to me quite plausible that Monday night's fire and the stubborn refusal of the property management department in my residence building to enforce the fire regulations share a common factor, namely, the lack of responsible supervision from higher levels.

Certainly in my residence building this has been shown to be the case, and the reportedly rapid spread of the fire at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel would seem to indicate a similar lack there.

Paul Mosely

via e-mail

Don't worship those who failed

Comment on You Nuo's column "Stop chasing Wall Street 'talents'" (China Daily, Feb 2)

I really appreciated this article in China Daily. Your points about the dangers of employing these American executive failures in China for huge salaries are very sound, and I think people should listen.

That said, I wonder why you did not highlight the need for more domestic Chinese talents.

In my professional and private life, I often meet some of these high-flying international execs, and I wonder what they are doing here. Many of them have little understanding of, or patience for, the Chinese way of doing things, which has been very successful over the past few decades.

Perhaps you can explain to me why there is still a cult of admiration surrounding these people who failed to do business well in their own countries. Is there any reason why Chinese businesses should admire companies that reward failure?

Dan Buck

via e-mail

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(China Daily 02/12/2009 page9)