A top maritime official has criticised netizens and 'improper public opinions' that forced authorities to sack his subordinate last year over a child molestation claim. Liu Gongchen, the deputy director of the Maritime Safety Administration, said the dismissal of Lin Jiaxiang was the result of the actions of a small group of people that were acting against officials and the government, the Guangzhou-based News Express reported yesterday. Mr Liu, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the group were sophisticated and knew how to manipulate netizens and that the sacked subordinate was a victim. 'I feel that public servants are now a disadvantaged group ... [Mr Lin was sacked] simply because of uncontrolled drunkenness and a quarrel in a public place ... he was just down on his luck,' Mr Liu was quoted as saying. Mr Lin, the former chief of the Shenzhen Maritime Bureau, was accused of molesting an 11-year-old girl in November. He was sacked after he allegedly pinched the girl's neck and tried to molest her in a restaurant bathroom. CCTV footage of the encounter had been spread on the internet. Mr Lin's drunkenness and arrogant remarks to the girl and her parents were widely condemned by mainland netizens. But the city's police said after an investigation that under mainland law Mr Lin's treatment of the primary school girl was not molestation, and only recommended that party discipline authorities punish him for his remarks and behaviour towards the girl and her parents. Mr Liu said the sacked official had received his salary and welfare package every month since the scandal, though was not allowed to resume his post. 'Why should he be fired? He hasn't done anything wrong,' he said. 'The police didn't identify the behaviour as molestation and he didn't break the law.' He urged authorities to launch more campaigns to effectively root out the internet hostility that could destroy public servants' careers.