Fuyang officials disciplined over milk powder scandal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 12:00am

Mayor is among those punished for a weak response to deadly incident

Fuyang Mayor Liu Qingqiang and eight senior officials have been disciplined for their failure to curb the distribution of substandard milk powder, which led to the death of 12 babies in Anhui province , Xinhua reported yesterday.

The punishments stemmed from an investigation carried out in Fuyang by the Ministry of Supervision, on the order of the State Council, to trace responsibility for the scandal, Xinhua said.

Mr Liu was given an administrative demerit, together with Vice-Mayor Du Changping , who was in charge of supervising hygiene.

Those ordered to resign and given warnings were Vice-Mayor Ma Mingye , in charge of industrial and commercial affairs; director of the city administration for Industry and Commerce Zhou Yi-sheng ; and city health bureau deputy director Ding Liling .

Yang Shuxin , the chief of the city administration for the Industry and Commerce's fair trade office, was removed from the Communist Party and the administration, and the procuratorate will investigate if he accepted bribes.

Stripped of party and administration duties were Yang Wei , deputy director of the city administration for Industry and Commerce, and vice-secretary of the city government Zhou Yunlian . Cao Huazhi , the city health bureau chief, was given a serious party warning and an administrative demerit.

Local authorities received the first complaint about substandard milk powder in May last year, but took no action.

The Ministry of Supervision investigation was held amid efforts to strengthen accountability - especially over large-scale accidents - in the government under the leadership of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao .

The Xinhua report did not say when the officials were punished. It noted that the Fuyang city government's weak response to the incident was a 'serious' failure. It particularly faulted the city health bureau, responsible for overseeing food safety, and the city administration for Industry and Commerce, in charge of product distribution.

The report said the investigation would continue.

Last month, Vice-Premier Wu Yi said all levels of government must improve the inspection of food production and sales, and warned officials that they would be held responsible for mishaps.

Meanwhile, one baby died and 20 others were taken to hospital in Suqian city in Jiangsu province after consuming substandard milk powder, the Legal Daily reported on Tuesday.