Official caught smiling at deadly bus crash scene enrages internet vigilantes
August 28, 2012Jing Gao6 Commentscorrupt officials, corruption, government officials, human flesh search engine, luxury watches, Road traffic safety, traffic fatalities, Vacheron Constantin, Yang Dacai, Zhou Jiugeng
Photos of a government official beaming at his colleagues at the scene of a road accident, in which 36 people were burned to death, have been circulating on the Chinese social media sites. Netizens set human flesh search engine in motion and soon found that the official has expensive taste for luxury watches.
A long-distance double decker sleeper bus rammed itself into the back of a tanker transporting highly flammable methanol near Yan’an, northwestern China’s Shaanxi province on the early morning of August 26. Both vehicles were set ablaze by the collision, and 36 people were killed by the inferno. Only three from the fully-loaded 39-seat bus managed to escape.
While the nation is still mourning over the terrible loss of their countrymen and reflecting upon the extremely dangerous road traffic conditions in China, a sharp-eyed netizen @JadeCong, spotted the highly inappropriate grin on a government official inspecting the accident scene in one photo by the official Xinhua News Agency. He cropped the picture to accentuate the faux pas and posted it onto Sina Weibo, the Chinese hybrid of Facebook and Twitter boasting more than 300 million users. He wittily commented on his post, “The official’s emotions have stabilized.” The post received about 6,700 shares and 1,600 comments.
Original Xinhua photo. Link here.
In addition to the grin, The official, fat with a potbelly, put his hands behind his back. The couldn’t-care-less attitude demonstrated by his buffoonish image has infuriated netizens, who took out the most fearsome non-state-controlled artillery – human flesh search engine. The crowd-powered information gathering method is often used by Chinese netizens to bring justice to personae non gratae – by identifying them and publishing personal details they wish to hide from the public. Before long, the netizens discovered that the official is Yang Dacai, the chief of Shaanxi Provincial Safety Supervision Bureau.
Human flesh search engine result: The man is Yang Dacai, the boss of Shaanxi’s Safety Supervision Bureau!
One net user who authored a post on KDNet, a popular discussion forum, wrote, “When ordinary people die in an accident, the masses do not really ask you to cover your face with tears. But in the face of our compatriots losing their precious lives, you should have the courtesy to at least to show some respect, right? This is the bottom line of being a human.”
Another Weibo user @死心补钙 wrote, “ ‘Well-fed officials, emaciated people. If officials are skinny, the people will be well-fed.’ This was what we were taught by the teacher when we were still young…It still applies even though life gets better now. You can just tell at first glance that people with greasy hair and fat ears are just up to no good~”
The online community capped their public shaming of Yang with an even heavier blow: pictures of Yang wearing five different luxury wristwatches on various occasions were dug out and passed around, with all of their brands verified by watch connoisseurs: Rolex, Omega, Vacheron Constantin, Omega and Rado. The most pricey one of all can cost anywhere between 200,000 to 400,000 yuan, depending on specific materials used. The total worth of the five timepieces is estimated to be at least 350,000 yuan, or US$55,000.
One netizen portrays Yang in his cartoon, who flaunts five watches on one arm and poses happily with a V sign.
The formal cash salaries of Chinese officials are made to look paltry, serving the authorities’ purpose of portraying themselves as men of the people. But it is no secret that almost all Chinese officials fatten on ill-gotten gains, and the luxury watches are just telling evidence.
In 2011, one netizen gained nationwide attention for his watch-spotting hobby. He publishes on Sina Weibo details of watches that senior Chinese officials wore on public occasions, including makes, models and market prices, and was lauded by netizens as well as some media for standing up to and laying bare corruption, which made Chinese authorities so restless over the unwanted attention on the regime’s rampant problem that his Weibo account was later censored.
Luxury watches can be the last straw that breaks a corrupt official’s back. In 2008, Zhou Jiugeng, the director of Nanjing’s property bureau, was brought down by public furor over extravagant lifestyle that doesn’t add up for a public servant after eagle-eyed netizens highlighted a Vacheron Constantin watch worth over $14,000 on his wrist in one web photo of him. He was convicted of accepting bribes from contractors and other officials and sentenced 11 years in prison.