Henan official who criticised grave-clearing campaign 'repents' after rebuke

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 11:44am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 2:16pm

Officials revoked a member's candidacy for the Standing Committee of Henan province's CPPCC after he openly criticised a government-backed campaign to clear graves.           

Zhao Keluo, 38, a member of the eastern province's People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), broke the news in a strongly worded “letter of repentance” posted yesterday afternoon to his account on Twitter-like service Sina Weibo. 

In the letter, Zhao said he was informed by “insiders” that his nomination to the Standing Committee had been removed and that it was because of an incident seven months ago in which he openly criticised a grave-clearing campaign in Henan.

More than two million tombs were demolished this year as part of a “flatten graves to return farmland” campaign. Zhao published a Weibo post in May criticising the campaign, which was shelved in November after the news sparked an outrage from the Chinese public. 

In his post, Zhao apologised to provincial and municipal leaders and said the decision to remove him from the nomination list was something he deserved.

He said his actions could have led to “chaos in the leadership” and ended the letter by stating that he would make “fewer mistakes” in the future and spend more time with his family. 

Zhao deleted the letter shortly after posting it, but it is still being circulated online.

Chinese netizens have rallied to support Zhao.

"What you did in the past was not a mistake, but you are making a big mistake now! To admit making a mistake, you are losing more!" wrote one weibo user, referring to Zhao's letter.

"Destroying the ancestral roots and culture is just foolish decision making... Mr Zhao, at least you respect justice and retain a conscience, you don't have to be afraid!" wrote another.

"Well written, very deep, and [you're got] the right attitude of repentance correct.. we all know what he really means!" posted another user, referring to the sarcastic tone of the letter.

Asked for comment, Zhao told the South China Morning Post via Weibo that everything he had to say was in the repentance letter and refused to make further comment.  

The public relations department of the Henan CPPCC said they had not seen any such “repentance” letter and said the final list of nominations for the CPPCC general elections had not been finalised.

According to Chinese media reports, Zhao had been sacked in July as executive director of Henan’s Certified General Accountants Association.