The toppling of Communist Party officials is often met with schadenfreude, but the sacking of a deputy township chief in quake-hit Lushan county has sparked a rare public outcry.
Yang Chengyi, 47, was removed from his post at in Qingyuan township on Wednesday for being absent from a relief work site at Hengxi village, making him the first official to lose his job in the wake of Saturday's magnitude 7 earthquake.
But Yang's removal attracted sympathy from the public, including villagers and his colleagues.
They contended that the deputy chief was only away from his post when party disciplinary inspectors arrived because he was busy allocating relief materials in remote areas.
Internet users applauded Yang's down-to-earth working style, saying that officials like him should be promoted, not sacked.
Many wryly noted that doing nothing had become the common practice for party cadres.
Yang refused to comment on his own removal, saying he was too busy participating in relief efforts to discuss the move.
"I just want to do my best for the relief effort, there are tons of things to do," he said, his voice cracking. "I don't want to defend myself. I just want to do my best to help the villagers."
A rescue worker from the Sichuan Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said he and Yang had been working for a few days at a rural village when the inspectors arrived at Hengxi.
"He has been wronged. He is a very responsible official and an honest man," said the rescue worker, who declined to be named.
He said the inspectors could not reach them because there was no mobile phone service in the mountains.
Despite his removal, Yang, a stocky man with thick glasses and grey hair, continued to participate in relief efforts yesterday. Some villagers could be heard calling him "chief Yang".
Jiang Xuerong , a villager in Tongmeng village, said he worked with Yang until 4am on Friday.
"He was so serious about the relief work," Jiang said. "The inspectors came at a bad time. We did a huge amount of work, but the leaders didn't see that."
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