Wu Yi slams 'criminals' who pursue self-interest

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 February, 2007, 12:00am

Vice-premier cites disgraced drugs watchdog in call for harsher punishment

Vice-Premier Wu Yi condemned disgraced former chief of the State Food and Drug Administration Zheng Xiaoyu yesterday and called for stricter punishment of irresponsible watchdog officials.

Addressing a televised national conference on regulating food and drugs, Ms Wu labelled Zheng a criminal and said he had invited shame by using his official powers to pursue his own interests.

'Everyone knows the fundamental reason why people like Zheng Xiaoyu have followed a criminal path is they didn't think clearly and correctly about the issue [of where their power came from],' Ms Wu said. 'They forgot who they were when they had power, used it for their own interests and acted on their own will, eventually ruining their reputation.'

Zheng, 62, served as the administration's first chief from 1998 to June 2005. The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced in December that he had been placed under shuanggui, a form of party disciplinary punishment, for taking bribes while in office.

Last week, an official magazine based in Shanghai reported that Zheng was believed to have committed suicide while in detention.

His case also brought to light a scandal within the administration that saw Goods Manufacturing Practice certificates sold to pharmaceutical companies, resulting in unqualified medicine being prescribed to patients and the deaths of 10 patients in one incident linked to a defective antibiotic. Some 168,740 certificates issued during Zheng's term will need reapproval and reregistration this year.

Ms Wu said Zheng's case was 'a very big lesson' that had exposed flaws in legislation and the regulatory system.

'On one hand ... the procedures stipulated in some regulations are flawed so the powers of interpretation and free decision-making are too big. Some procedures for making regulations are so lax as to enable unauthorised modification for [officials'] own interests,' she said.

'On the other hand, the regulation on supervising public power is unsound, especially lacking supervisory measures on departments that exert important administrative power, such as giving approvals.

'For most people, nothing is more important than life and health. What a big trust it is to put such a huge responsibility on you. So don't disappoint that trust,' Ms Wu said, calling for food and drug safety officials to be responsible in doing their job.

Ms Wu said the fact that similar problems still persisted, even after repeated food and drug safety campaigns, could be attributed to lax execution of the law and tardy criminal sanctions. She also called for strict execution of the law to punish those who endangered food and drug safety.

'Some suspected cases received administrative punishment and didn't make it to the criminal prosecution process, or even just got fined instead of facing criminal charges. How could it be done so recklessly?'