Zengcheng offers cash, residency to informers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 2011, 12:00am


Zengcheng is giving out hukou, or residency, to migrant workers who provide tip-offs leading to the successful arrest of rioters after three days of civil unrest that tore Xintang town apart last week.

According to a police notice published by the Zengcheng Daily yesterday, the authorities will give out awards of 5,000 to 10,000 yuan (HK$6,000 to HK$12,000), as well as grand titles such as 'righteous good citizen', to people who provide information about riot participants.

It said cash and additional awards would also be given to 'outstanding' migrant-worker informants. That includes being dubbed an 'excellent migrant worker' and receiving free residency in Zengcheng, a satellite city of Guangzhou.

Chaozhou's Guxiang town in eastern Guangdong and Xintang town near Guangzhou are trying to recover from the violent civil unrest that saw government offices besieged and vehicles destroyed, mostly by migrant workers.

The government responded to the violence with an iron fist.

A police officer identifying himself as Officer Zhang who answered the informant hotline said he was responsible solely for answering phone calls and therefore had no knowledge of what criteria informants would have to meet to become Zengcheng citizens. But he added that the district-level city had returned to a peaceful state.

Many perceive the latest measures dished out by the Zengcheng government as a tactic to divide migrant workers, who are known for their united spirit.

In the Zengcheng riots, reports said many Sichuan workers rushed out from their factories and gathered after they heard that a pregnant Sichuan street pedlar and her husband had been mistreated by local security personnel.

There were also reports that Sichuan migrant workers travelled to Zengcheng on the second and third days of the riots to show support.

An internet user who went by the username 'Freshness of May' called the hukou measure nonsense and unoriginal.

'Government, can you be any more shameless? How many years have you been deploying the same tactics of using people to go against themselves?' the post reads.

A Guangzhou-based analyst said it was the first time the government had offered free residency as a reward for information in the hunt for rioters. But he doubted the tactics would work.

'Those who betray their brothers at home will lose their credibility,' he said, calling such people unworthy to be citizens.

He added that migrant workers could easily find jobs elsewhere, and official residency in Xintang may not be as attractive as the government thought.

The official notice added that the government would penalise those who stormed government offices and used violence to disrupt the work of civil servants. It also called for rioters to turn themselves in to receive more lenient treatment.

Meanwhile, Outlook Weekly, a Xinhua-affiliated magazine, said such conflicts affected the lives of local residents.

It also said the conflicts were triggered by the income and welfare gap, as well as by systematic discrimination against migrant workers, such as being forced to pay more in school fees than local residents.