Op-Ed: Scandals and sex in China are becoming part of the scenery, but what if the public's eagerness to shame law-breaking officials is in itself undermining the rule of law?
BEIJING - Prosecuted for taking bribes, making false accusations, and illegal business dealings. That was the already unhappy situation of Zhang Jingli, the former deputy commissioner of China's State Food and Drug Administration.
And while he is still under investigation, what is his employer, the State Food and Drug Administration, doing? The government agency is openly broadcasting a video containing some "unsightly" scenes of Zhang's visit to the Heaven on Earth, a high-end Beijing night club. Here, "unsightly" means pornographic. The State Food and Drug Administration defends its decision to release the video as an "internal processing decision."
The airing of dirty laundry quickly sparked two very different reactions.
The gloaters are legion, charged up by yet another sex-ridden scandal involving a high ranking official. Zhang's "embarrassment" suits them because they believe the exposure is beneficial for the public oversight of rotten public servants.
However, certain academics and others oppose the arbitrary violation of Zhang's privacy, insisting that he should be sanctioned on legal, not moral grounds. Even if the court must ultimately be forced to judge him in part on evidence in the video, under no circumstances should Zhang's right of privacy be violated in public -- and in particular before he is even sentenced.
As Yang Tao, a commentator with this newspaper points out: "The fact that Zhang Jingli is openly humiliated and made out to be a moral hazard and a wicked person… will not be conducive to his fair trial." He also urges an investigation as to the origin of the video.
In 2007, Zheng Xiaoyu, the then commissioner of the State Food and Drug Administration, was found guilty of taking bribes and lowering pharmaceutical safety standards. His actions resulted in a number of deaths. He was executed rapidly as a political gesture, and "made an example of."
Zhang Jingli had hoped to be Zheng's replacement, but thwarted in this ambition, he became bitter and thereafter tried to unseat his new superior with unfounded accusations. It seems that the release of this damaging video may indeed be linked to this power struggle.
Read the original article in full in Chinese
photo - China Forbidden News
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations