Transport official stripped of party posts after lavish funeral for mum

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am

A senior transport official in Lufeng, Guangdong, has been stripped of his party posts a month after he staged a lavish funeral for his mother.

At a gathering of more than 300 officials carefully orchestrated by the municipal government this week, authorities said Xie Pingfa would also be demoted and transferred out of the city's transport department, the Nanfang Daily reported yesterday.

Mr Xie's fall from grace comes as the public grows increasingly disillusioned with official corruption and a widening wealth gap in the country.

It also coincides with reports this week that an unidentified multimillionaire in Shenzhen spent about 10 million yuan on his father's funeral, including a convoy of 25 luxury cars and a coffin costing 280,000 yuan.

The funeral for Mr Xie's mother was also widely reported by mainland media, prompting municipal authorities in Lufeng to launch an investigation.

'In organising such a funeral for his mother, comrade Xie Pingfa has caved in to some outdated rituals and feudalist thought, turning his back on what the party believes and strives for. As a party member and cadre, he showed little regard for guidelines and the code of conduct reaffirmed by the party and the country,' a party circular on a disciplinary decision on Mr Xie said.

It was not clear how much it cost, but Mr Xie's small home town ground to a standstill on the day of the funeral, which involved rituals such as a fireworks display, band performances as well as banquets at a school and restaurants.

The funeral procession, nearly 3,000-strong, led by Mr Xie and several of his brothers, was reported to stretch for more than 1km.

Mr Xie said the funeral 'was done in accordance with local tradition'. However, some people attending the funeral said they were there because Mr Xie was a powerful figure in town and they had also given condolence money to his family.

Beijing Institute of Technology professor Hu Xingdou said that as a public servant living on a fixed income, Mr Xie needed to explain how he could afford such an expensive funeral for his mother.

'If the official was found to have abused public resources or to have accepted money from the public, internal disciplinary action is not enough,' Professor Hu said

Even if he was cleared of unlawful activities, he should be censured for such a lavish ceremony.

'Funerals have underscored the tendency among some rich people to show off their wealth, and such a waste of money somehow exacerbates the social divide,' Professor Hu said.