Vice-mayor detained as graft crackdown spreads

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 January, 2010, 12:00am

The anti-corruption storm that battered Guangdong last year is continuing to rage, with a number of senior officials in the southwestern city of Maoming being investigated for graft as the crackdown moves on to second-tier cities.

A vice-mayor of the city, Yang Guangliang, was the most high-profile casualty, the Xinhua-run Oriental Outlook magazine reported.

Yang's fall has been linked to that of Chen Shaoji, the former chairman of the Guangdong provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who was fired in April for taking bribes and living a degenerate lifestyle. Yang is suspected of bribing Chen, accepting bribes and selling official positions.

The magazine said Yang was asked to travel to Guangzhou on October 16 for an official meeting but was soon placed under shuanggui, a Communist Party disciplinary mechanism, by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. It said Yang was being detained in Guangzhou.

The report did not explain why it had taken almost three months for the investigation to be made public.

Yang's profile has been removed from the Maoming government website, and the city government was unavailable for comment yesterday. Other senior Maoming officials have been taken away for investigation or removed from their posts.

They include: Cheng Bin , the head of the police bureau's crime squad; Yang Qiang , a district-level police chief; and Cheng Jiazeng , head of Maoming's prison bureau, along with seven senior prison officials

Reports of irregularities at Maoming Prison emerged in August, with officers having taken more than 10 million yuan (HK$11.3 million) in bribes a year in exchange for reduced sentences and lenient treatment. The chief warden and three senior prison officers were sacked.

'The morale of cadres in the province, especially senior ones, will be affected by the ongoing campaign from above,' said an official close to the top leadership of a second-tier city, who would not give his name.

He said the campaign had focused on police and high-ranking cadres and officials in his office were starting to guess who was next.

The dramatic events in Maoming are a further indication that the anti-corruption drive has spread to second-tier cities, after previously focusing on Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Ye Shuyang, the former police chief of Shaoguan, in the north of the province, will soon stand trial for allegedly accepting 34 million yuan in bribes over the past two decades. Mainland media reported he had set a target of 60 million yuan before his retirement.

Last month, Chen Xizhao, the deputy chief of police in Lianjiang, near Maoming, was removed from his post after reportedly inviting around 1,000 guests to a house-warming banquet on Christmas Eve. Local media said the palatial residence had five storeys, each more than 200 square metres in size.

Senior Guangdong officials have fallen like dominoes since early last year. In addition to Chen Shaoji, the list includes former top graft-buster Wang Huayuan, former provincial deputy police chief Zheng Shaodong and former Shenzhen mayor Xu Zongheng.