Youth urged to revere martyr

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 December, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 December, 1997, 12:00am

Communist Party commentators have hit out at mainland youth for idolising 'pop stars and fat cats' instead of a long-dead socialist martyr.

The Beijing Youth Daily yesterday told teenagers to be beware of leading 'unrestrained lives' and to embrace the values of propaganda icon Lei Feng, the mainland's model soldier.

'To our regret, many youngsters have lost the spirit of the Lei Feng era,' the newspaper lamented. 'Money worship is so widespread, some people think Lei Feng is a product of the past.' Lei, a legendary PLA corporal, was proclaimed a socialist martyr by Mao Zedong in 1963 for selfless deeds such as doing his garrison's laundry and donating his pay to peasants.

In a front-page commentary, the newspaper acknowledged that urban teenagers remained indifferent to party-approved role models despite propagandists' recent attempts to revive the Lei Feng cult.

'Young people are failing to enhance their sense of spirituality and ideological thought,' the paper said.

'On the contrary, they have become indulgent and worship pop singers and fat cats.

'We must say that, now Lei Feng has gone, young people lead more and more unrestrained lives - their spirit is hollow.' According to party legend, 22-year-old Lei was killed by a falling telegraph pole while on duty in 1962.

'We must not forget Lei Feng,' the paper said. 'We must never set aside our unlimited spiritual wealth, which is so precious and vital.' Party authorities have attempted to resurrect the Lei legend with mandatory viewing of a 1996 film, The Day I Left Lei Feng.