Ministry's response stirs anger

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2011, 12:00am


Calls for the resignation of the railways minister continued to grow yesterday after the embattled ministry failed to reveal the precise cause of a deadly accident after three days, and as the chaotic handling of the wreckage stirred public outrage.

Searches for the name and title of Railways Minister Sheng Guangzu were still turning up no hits last night on Sina Weibo, the mainland's most popular microblogging service platform.

But on other microblogging platforms, such as those run by NetEase and Tencent, Sheng was facing stern criticism, much of it calling for his resignation, with foul language thrown in.

An online survey by indicated that the ministry had completely lost its credibility.

By late last night, nearly 99 per cent of about 20,000 respondents said it was wrong for the ministry to bury part of the wreckage of the trains quickly, more than 97 per cent said the ministry should make public the names of those killed, and about 93 per cent said they did not believe only 39 people died in the accident, the worst on the mainland's railways since 2008.

Scholars such as Professor He Weifang, a prominent law expert at Peking University, called on the National People's Congress (NPC) to set up a special committee to investigate the accident.

On his Sina Weibo account yesterday, he said nobody would believe the results of the investigation launched by the ministry itself.

Author Zhang Yihe strongly supported He's idea. She said none of the top Railways Ministry officials were trustworthy.

She said that all the top leaders of the ministry, not just Sheng or his predecessor, Liu Zhijun, should be held accountable.

Liu was sacked as minister in February following a 'severe violation' of discipline. Five other railways officials have since been investigated for graft.

'We must have an independent investigation from the NPC, for it's authorised by the constitution,' she said.

But Zhang conceded that the chances of an independent investigation, which would be a first for the NPC, were slim.

Still, she insisted that people, especially NPC delegates and other law experts, must speak out and push the legislative body to move forward.

'A group of 20 people will be enough, and I do not believe that all of the country's more than 2,900 lawmakers are indifferent to the tragedy,' Zhang said. 'I think they have emotion and are warm-blooded too.'

But Qiu Feng, another Beijing-based independent scholar familiar with public policy, said he was pessimistic about the final results of the investigation, and didn't think Sheng would resign.

'We have a very complex power system now,' he said. 'To remove a minister is not an easy decision to make.'

5b yuan

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