PLA singer Han Hong apologises after series of traffic violations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 12:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Han Hong, one of China's most well-known singers, has been caught committing traffic violations in Beijing three times in just two weeks, adding fuel to a debate about the sense of entitlement surrounding People's Liberation Army-affiliated celebrities.

Han issued a public apology on Sunday, a day after police said she had been fined 5,000 yuan (HK$6,330) for driving a black Land Rover with another car's number plate in the city's eastern district a day earlier.

"I feel discredited and ashamed for my actions," she wrote in her apology, which she posted on her microblog along with a copy of the receipt that proved she paid the fine.

Han claimed in her apology that she used another licence plate because she wasn't awarded a plate in the monthly lottery, which is meant to reduce congestion in the city. In July, 1.52 million applicants vied for 18,485 licence plates for small passenger cars, according to Beijing municipal traffic police.

Just two days earlier Han had been photographed driving a black Ferrari on the city's often-clogged fourth ring road without a licence plate. Drivers photographed her speaking on her mobile phone while driving, another offence according to Chinese traffic regulations.

In mid-July, Han, 42, had also crashed a black Audi A8 into another car, while driving in a bus lane in Beijing. The limousine she was driving also lacked a number plate.

The half-Tibetan superstar is most known for her role as judge on Chinese Idol, one of the most popular TV shows of this year. She is also the deputy head of the PLA Air Force art troupe and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

With the advantages of being a celebrity come responsibilities, a commentary in the Beijing News read on Monday. They "have the responsibility to convey the right set of values," it said. "Respecting the law is more important than an apology."

Many online commentators asked whether she should be fined more for repeatedly breaking the law. Others praised her for apologising and promising to mend her ways. 

The incident comes after the PLA's art troupe suffered a major publicity setback this year with the ongoing trial of Li Tianyi, son of renowned PLA singers Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge, in Beijing for allegedly participating in a gang rape in the capital in February.

In 2011, Li had been sentenced to a year for juvenile delinquency after he and a friend beat up a couple near his Beijing home, when their BMW crashed into the couple's car. It also had no licence plates.