Milk-scandal official gets new job with watchdog

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2009, 12:00am

A senior official disciplined for his part in the melamine-in-milk scandal has been given a new job with the national quality watchdog, sparking a fresh public outcry just weeks after a previous promotion was discovered.

The first time he was quietly promoted to a key post in Anhui province . Now he has been transferred back to the watchdog.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) announced this month that Bao Junkai, the former deputy director of its food-production supervision department, had been appointed deputy head of its science and technology department. The news spread rapidly on the internet yesterday, and was discussed widely in chat rooms. But some news websites tried to remove reports about Mr Bao's new job.

He was subjected to administrative discipline in March to answer for the adulterated-milk scandal, in which melamine was added to substandard milk to allow it to pass tests for protein content. The widespread practice led to the deaths of at least six children from kidney failure and saw 300,000 fall ill, many with painful kidney stones.

But early last month, netizens discovered he had taken part in official events as head of the Anhui Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau - a more senior position than his original one - as early as December. That appointment caused uproar in the media and on the Net, with one observer calling it 'beyond comprehension'.

Weeks later, the public has been stunned to find he was quietly transferred back to the AQSIQ last month.

'The repeated reappointments of Bao have an extremely bad effect on society,' a law student in Beijing said. 'Bao's experience tells society that mainland officials will be fine and back soon, no matter how big the accidents they are responsible for.' Another netizen said: 'If demotion and removal can't work, what else can bring justice to government administration?' Liu Xutao , from the National School of Administration, said authorities should explain Mr Bao's punishment and reappointment.

'That's necessary to cool public anger and rebuild the public's confidence in the government,' he said. 'I think AQSIQ believes the earlier disciplinary measures were proper and enough for Mr Bao. The public would not want to put an end to an official's career as a result of a single mistake.

'The problem is the lack of transparent, detailed rules on accountability policies, which must appear to be fair to the public and officials. No public anger will be sparked if it is clearly listed under what rules officials will be punished and sacked, and under what rules they will be reappointed.'

New jobs for officials disciplined for corruption scandals, mine accidents, the tainted-milk scandal and even a scandal over faked photographs of a tiger have sown widespread doubts about accountability on the mainland.