Wen Jiabao

Netizens tell it like it is in messages to premier

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2006, 12:00am

Hundreds of thousands of netizens posted appeals and questions to Wen Jiabao on special bulletin boards prepared by main state media websites in the run-up to the premier's press conference yesterday.

The rare opportunity to make their voices heard by the premier attracted a wave of interest among mainlanders.

Most of the messages expressed concern over mainstream topics such as health care, education and rural problems,

But some tried to draw Mr Wen's attention to problems such as the rights of hepatitis B patients, low salaries for soldiers and rampant corruption among government officials who have wasted and embezzled public funds.

Many of the netizens must have been aware that any radical messages would be removed, so the tone of most postings tended to be mild, although some could not help using stronger language.

'Because of the rapid economic development in the east, most of the land has been seized, and most of it illegally,' one bitter message read.

'The land in the west is of poor condition and yields poor harvests.

'If this goes on, let's wait till the day when grain prices skyrocket and by that time, we can cook and eat cash notes. Don't expect the US and Canada to sell grain to us.'

Another touched on the sensitive topic of political reform.

'If we don't accelerate political reform with all our effort, and witness its effectiveness, even if you work to exhaustion, new problems will arise when old problems are not yet resolved,' one posting read.

Yet another asked why so many ministers and vice-ministers who had reached retirement age were still in the cabinet.

But one netizen wasn't convinced that a temporary opportunity to express an opinion to the premier was enough.

'Do you mind telling us your e-mail address?' the writer asked.