China new Mental Health Law indirectly helping anti-corruption efforts

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

(An article I wrote back in October 2012, but not published.)

The introduction of a new law guarding the handling and treating of mental patients is being seen favorably in a different perspective by China’s many petitioners against corrupt officials.

While the new law seeks to regulate how mental patients are being treated and the objective was to protect the rights of mental patients, petitioners will now know that there is at least a law in place to protect them when they are being thrown into mental hospitals by officials from the local provincial governments.

Local city and county governments have long been accused stationing their own people in Beijing to intercept and abduct petitioners who have travelled from their areas to force them to go home.

The main aim is to prevent citizens from appealing in Beijing because local officials face the possibility of punishment from the central government should the complaints of the petitioners be heard by the Petitioning Bureau in the capital.

China previously does not have a Mental Health Law, and individuals can be forced to “stay” in mental hospital against their own wishes if “experts” were to diagnose them as “mentally ill”, a common tactic used by local provincial governments in punishing petitioners.

Human rights organizations have also accused Chinese authorities of arbitrarily imprisoning large numbers of petitioners in black jails or other illicit detention facilities.

In 2009, Human Rights Watch produced a report alleging that large numbers of petitioners, including children, are detained in black jails, and documented several allegations of torture and mistreatment in the facilities.

Earlier in May, Al-Jazeera TV reporter Melissa Chan was expelled by the Chinese authorities without reason, but the all-action reporting of the journalist, including some exciting video footages of black jails used to lock petitioners and catching local interceptors in the thick of action abusing petitioners could have contributed to the Chinese decision.

Many also linked the expulsion to an Al-Jazeera TV documentary painting China as promoting “state sponsored slavery” through the use of inmates in Re-Education Labor Camps, and also highlighting the mistreatment of Falun Gong followers, a religion listed as cult in China, even though Chan took no part in its production.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Bo Xilai removed from party posts, Gu Kailai arrested for suspected murder

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Chinese state media reported April 10 at 11pm that former Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai was suspended from the party’s 25-member Politburo and its 300-member Central Committee, on suspicion of “serious disciplinary violations”.

The two-line report by Xinhua news agency was the first official mention that Bo was suspected of wrongdoing since he was removed from his post last month as Communist Party leader of the southwestern city of Chongqing.

Bo’s wife Gu Kailai and another “personal assistant” named Zhang Xiaojun, had also been transferred to judicial authorities on “suspected crime of intentional homicide” in the death of Neil Heywood, a Briton said to have close business ties to the family.

(From L) Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai and Bo Guagua during a family trip. (Internet picture)

According to unconfirmed reports, evidence of Heywood’s murder was turned over by Wang Lijun, Bo’s right-hand man and former Chongqing police chief, to the US Chengdu Consulate during his attempt to seek asylum, and in turn passed over to the British by the US, prompting calls by the British for China to reopen investigation towards his death.

Meanwhile, a report by Reuters said that Heywood’s widow was recently questioned by the Chinese police, and was even warned by them not to speak to any foreign media.

Prior to the news release by Xinhua on Bo’s suspension, nationwide emergency meetings for all party members (especially in universities) had also been called in order to “synchronize understandings and beliefs” pertaining to Bo’s incident, so as to prevent anything similar to the June 4th incident in 1989 where hundreds of thousands of students protested at Beijing Tiananmen Square for democracy.

Sensitive news releases from Xinhua and other media agencies have had their comment function (words) blocked to prevent anti-government postings, resulting in huge level of comments in punctuations, most notably “……”. (This FYI, and just for fun~~)

In one of the most amazing and ironic development, Xinhua News Official Sina Microbog Account actually wrote a post to ask followers whether they were able to read it’s posting about Bo, fearing that their official announcement on the beleaguered former Chongqing chief would automatically be blocked by the Microblog site for “sensitive content”.

An article by The New York Times on Apr 12 revealed that investigation on Bo and Gu “appears to be evolving into a broader investigation into the wealth” of the couple.

Over in Chongqing’s Wansheng District, more than tens of thousands residents poured onto the streets on Apr 10-11 kin protest of issues that cannot be ascertained.

The Times of India linked the demonstration to the ouster of Bo, while Chinese officials stressed that the situation had nothing to do with the Wang Lijun incident, nor Bo’s downfall.
The spokesperson insisted the protest was mainly over the merger between the richer Wansheng District and the lesser Qijiang County, a decision said to be made by Bo.

Wansheng residents were worried about the merger’s impact on local economy, and also unhappy over having a lower healthcare subsidy due to healthcare benefits synchronization within the city.

Internet rumors had the number of protesters at more than one hundred thousand, while government spokesperson said the count was closer to ten thousand.

Political analysts said Xi Jinping will stand to benefit most from the removal, as Bo, a darling of China’s political left, is a highly controversial and divisive figure who many felt could threaten the stability of Xi’s cabinet and policies.

On the literature front, books authored by Gu Kailai were immediately sold out in most parts of China, and some titles, like “Winning a lawsuit in the United States”, which original price was 58 yuan (US$9), is now being sold online for hundreds of yuan.

Gu Kailai's book "Winning a lawsuit in the United States" being shot into a drama series in China. (Internet picture)

A tweet by “The Relevant Organs” about Gu Kailai on Apr 13 wrote, “Relevant Organs confirm that Gu Kailai’s next book highly unlikely to be called, ‘Winning a Case in China’.”

April 14 latest:
Bo Guagua (son of Bo Xilai) and Wang Lulu (widow of Heywood) are rumored to be seeking asylum with America and the United Kingdom respectively.

Categories: News and politics

Tension in Beijing amid rumors of coup against Hu and Wen

March 26, 2012 5 comments

It could have been in the pipeline, but judging from reports and rumors coming out from various sources on the internet last week, a coup will most probably not happen, but the tension is definitely real.

The struggle for power was reportedly between Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabao, who control the army, and Zhou Yongkang, who belongs to ex-president (1993-2003) Jiang Zemin’s faction and controls the military police.

Amid the rumors of a coup unfolding in dramatic fashion on cyberspace, Financial Times (FT) became the first mainstream media to clearly address the coup rumor, by quoting “one person with close ties to China’s security apparatus”, saying that Zhou “had been ordered not to make any public appearances or take any high-level meetings” and was “already under some degree of control”.

The latest breaking news (erm… rumors) on Mar 23 reported that the Military Police will no longer be under the command of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (headed by Zhou Yongkang), but will now be under the Central Military Commission (headed by Hu Jintao).

Lending weight to the report by FT, Zhou was curiously missing from the National Political and Legislative Affair Promotion Meeting in Shanghai, which was chaired instead by his understudy Wang Lequan. A letter, reportedly from Zhou, was read to attendees in the meeting, but did more to intensify the rumor of him “under control” than to quell it.

ImageCaption: Picture taken from China Weibo. This is unlikely to be a real picture of what is happening (or have happened) in Beijing, as my friend confirmed that there were not much tension felt around Tiananmen Square.

While the entire coup saga was running wild on the net, mainland Chinese media remained extremely quiet, and overseas Chinese media, especially the anti-communist ones, ran amok in reporting all kinds of coup, internal power struggle, etc., quoting all kinds of unnamed sources. The Los Angeles Times, while maintaining that the coup rumors remained as it is, a rumor, also reported the edginess that could be felt from the heart of Beijing.

Postings were also rife on Twitter and other social media as well, that both factions summoned their men into the capital and started arresting each other’s underlings, all these actions happening during the relative peace outside the Tiananmen region.

The rumors were given added credibility when Sina Weibo (China version of Twitter) users found themselves unable to search or post words like “gunshots” and “Chang’an Avenue”, the street where gunshots were reportedly heard in the wee hours of Mar 20, and “coup” was also later added to the censored list by the Chinese authorities.

Bo Xilai’s removal from power on Mar 15 was said to be the catalyst triggering this outright conflict between the two factions. Bo belongs to Jiang’s faction, and his removal was said to signal a declaration of war by Hu’s faction on Jiang’s faction.

Adding to the suspense amidst these talks of conflicts was that Bo reportedly instructed Wang Lijun and Zhang Haiyang (ex-Political Commissar of Chengdu Military Zone) to secretly purchase 5,000 guns and 500,000 bullets to equip his own army in preparation for “unforeseen circumstances”. Zhang is now said to be detained by the authorities.

Peking University Professor Kong Qingdong, who infamously labeled residents of Hong Kong as dogs following a spate earlier this year between Chinese from mainland and the special administrative region, derided the removal of Bo Xilai as “anti-revolution” on his TV show in one of the most public and direct criticism of Wen Jiabao.

Kong has been an ardent fan of Bo’s ironfisted rule of Chongqing, and netizens have frequently labeled the much maligned professor as Bo’s lackey. Kong’s public criticism of the central government however, can also be seen in the light of adding weight to the coup that Zhou and Bo are planning. Kong is currently said to be suspended by the university.

One news which on surface might not have a direct link to the power struggle might actually also has its implication. In the early hours of Mar 18, a black Ferrari was said to have crashed into a bridge in Beijing, killing the male driver instantly, and seriously injuring other two female passengers.

News of the crash was posted on Sina Weibo and other Chinese media, but was soon deleted, and even postings and searches on “Ferrari” were blocked. Rumors were that the driver was the son of Jia Qinglin (one of nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee), and that the accident might have been part of a political ploy by Zhou in his fight for power.

Contrary to all these talk of a coup, George Mason University Professor Zhang Tianliang wrote on The Epoch Times suggesting that Jiang’s faction were now prepared to give up on Zhou, partly due to his involvement with the supposed coup with Bo against Hu and Wen, and partly also to protect other members of the Jiang faction from being vanquished in this high profile struggle.

According to The Diplomat, corruption also plays a central role in this saga, and one of the reasons for Bo to be ousted from his position was said to be his attempt to derail the corruption investigation on his wife Gu Kailai by Wang Lijun.

Amid all the upheavals, the atmosphere in Beijing appeared relatively calm, and there were almost no complaints of any disruptions to daily commercial or social activities, despite the “coup” and “gunshots” that were supposedly unfolding in the capital.

 

Latest on Mar 23 late night (Mar 24 early morning):

Zhou Yongkang made his first public appearance today (Mar 23) afternoon since rumors of power struggle with Hu and Wen surfaced on Tuesday.

Reported by Xinhua news (with photos), Zhou met with Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa at the Great Hall.

This could signify two things: Hu and Wen finally struck an accord with Zhou on the issue of Bo Xilai (Zhou is the only member on the Politburo Standing Committee to support Bo).

Or: There were no conflicts at all!

You can read a good article here by Reuters about Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun:

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE82M0CV20120323?irpc=932

 

Latest on Mar 24 late night:

Despite the appearance of Zhou Yongkang meeting with Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (you can see Mar 24 The Straits Times Page C1 for the news) yesterday afternoon, I’m still quite confident that there must have been something going on internally in Beijing.

An analyst from Epoch Times Xia Xiaoqiang said that news surfaced on Mar 21 that Zhou was being partially controlled, so on Mar 22, the central government tried to use a letter by Zhou Yongkang to counter the rumor, but it did not had the desired effect, thus they had no choice but to let him make an appearance on Mar 23 to quell the rumors. Most analysts still believe that Zhou’s political career has come to an end.

(There is a general concept that all nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee have to appear on the CCTV Daily news report in order of their seniority, which is why the non-appearance of Zhou made such an impact.)

Elsewhere, news from Xinhua reported on Mar 24 that Guo Boxiong, Vice President of the Central Military Commission, stressed during his trip to the Shaanxi Province garrison that the army needs to stay closely united around the leadership of President Hu Jintao’s central government, and be on the same stride as the central government.

Yes, you did not read wrongly, he said “President Hu Jintao’s central government”, not anyone else’s central government.

On Sina Weibo, the term “Instant noodles taken off the shelves” remains a term being blocked for searching. Instant Noodles is a nickname of Zhou Yongkang, as there is a famous China brand of instant noodles called “Master Kang”. I personally tried searching it, and the message I got was “According to relevant law and policies, this search will not be reflected”.

On Baidu (China’s largest search engine), terms like “Teletubby vs Master Kang”, “Teletubby fights Master Kang” were also blocked. I tried it on Baidu, and the message I got was “Search results may not meet the relevant laws, regulations and policies, and will not be shown”.

 

Latest on Mar 25:

Today’s news had been dominated by Leung Chun-ying winning the HK election. Leong has been repeatedly accused of being a communist party member, and after winning the election to become HK’s next Chief Executive, Following his election, Leung reiterated to the press that he is not a communist party member.

No update on anything crucial from Beijing thus far.

 

Background:

Every 10 years the Chinese Communist Party seeks to effect an orderly transition in which one group of nine middle-aged politicians replace nine of their slightly older counterparts.

The time has now come for President Hu and Premier Wen to step aside. This means changes in the 24 man Communist Party Politburo, and crucially, its nine-man Standing Committee, the group which really rules China.

Categories: News and politics

被派到汶莱的马来奕县

July 15, 2010 10 comments

上次说要世界杯之后才写博,因为想写一些关于世界杯的东西,但又担心给荷兰带来霉运,所以一直不敢写。

虽然荷兰没赢世界杯,可是输给西班牙也可以说是输得心服口服。荷兰这次世界杯进决赛也算是超水准表现了。

不过荷兰输了,我还是很难过的,后来公司又派新任务,所以现在才有空写博。

最近公司把我派到马来奕,这是汶莱的一个临近马来西亚(东马)美里市的一个县,距离汶莱首都大概100公里。

这个地方当然没有汶莱首都热闹,但是对我来说汶莱首都也没什么精彩的,所以我也乐得来到这里,至少靠近美里,休假时可以过去逛逛。

我13号才刚到,所以还在熟悉环境,还好有其他报社的记者带着,所以没有那种刚到新环境的茫然。

等在这里稳定一些后,我再看看有什么能写上博客的吧!我在汶莱报导的新闻都没什么有趣的,所以很少放上来。

最近有一篇关于世博自愿者打烂香港记者摄影器材的文章觉得还可以,如果大家有兴趣,到www.bt.com.bn去搜A Case of Media Arrogance?,应该能搜到的。

另外,上次(呃,其实是五个月前,过年的时候)说到我女朋友,本来想把她的照片放上来,可是她对隐私特别在意,不让我放,所以就算了吧!:)

我八月会去日本旅游,算是见家长吧!大家祝我好运哦~~ 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

看似无题是有题

July 6, 2010 5 comments
刚想写写近况,因为有些变化,而且接着还有更多变化。
 
可是忽然想起现在不适宜写博。还是等世界杯后再写吧~~
Categories: Personal

Workman Kuyt not angling for praise

This is not my article. It’s an article on AFP by Benoit Noel, on Dirk Kuyt, a player that I admire quite a lot.
JOHANNESBURG, June 21, 2010
Dutch right winger Dirk Kuyt comes from a fishing family and in his selfless and hardworking style on the pitch he has never been one to go angling for compliments or praise.
The 29-year-old, who scored his side’s second goal in the opening World Cup 2-0 win over Denmark, has proved that he will give evrything for the cause for club and country.
This season alone he has played 65 times 53 matches for Liverpool, scoring 11 times, and 12 for the Dutch, hitting the back of the net on four occasions.
Kuyt insists that he is not tired – a complaint often voiced by others at the finals – and is enjoying every second of the tournament which saw the Dutch become the first side to qualify for the second round when Denmark beat Cameroon on Saturday.
Kuyt, who was born in the fishing town of Katwijk and who seemed to be destined to become a fisherman like his parents, doesn’t mind that his place in the starting line-up of Dutch footballing artists is constantly called into question by the domestic media.
“It is obvious, I am not the same type of player,” said Kuyt.
“I don’t have the same qualities, I have others. I am different.
“At the base of it (the criticism) it is what gives me my strength.
Kuyt’s battling qualities, forged in the unforgiving climate of his birthplace, were recognised by the coach of his first professional club, FC Utrecht.
“He was not the subtlest of players but on account of his workrate, he became the best player,” said Mark Wotte.
Kuyt really blossomed at Feyenoord where he scored an impressive 83 goals in 122 matches (from 2003 to 2006), and earned himself a 15million euros transfer to English Premier League giants Liverpool in 2006, where then coach Rafael Benitez switched him from centre forward to wide on the right.
While it obviously dried up his ratio of goals to matches played, it helped him in terms of establishing his place in the Dutch team as his opportunities had been limited up front by Ruud van Nistelrooy’s presence.
He is so honest and without ego that even when Arsenal forward Robin van Persie said that there should be no place for him in the attacking first choice quartet at the World Cup – that it should be van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben – he simply shrugged it off.
“Robin was right, those are four fantastic players,” admitted Kuyt.
“But a team doesn’t consist of just 11 players. I don’t feel bitter towards Van Persie who I am sure walked into a trap laid by a journalist.”
AFP
Categories: Sports

祝大家春节快乐!!!

February 19, 2010 13 comments
又是回新加坡马来西亚过年的季节,今年大年初一竟然没写博给大伙拜年,这是我的罪过,在这里给大家赔礼!!!今年实在是太忙,所以大家需要体谅体谅~~
 
最忙的当然是我女朋友由花来新加坡了。我忙着带她从汶莱到新加坡到马来西亚见家长亲戚朋友,当然没空写博了。你們有些或许还不知道我已有女朋友了,她是日本人,现在在上海念书。等我下次有空再好好介绍她吧!
 
其实现在也没时间写太多,所以先上来补个新年贴,下次再写多一些。
 
大家新年快乐!我这次已经开始工作,回來的时间有限,估计很多朋友都见不到了,大家别怪我。没见面,用网络联系一样开心的啦!:)
 
祝大家新春愉快,恭喜发财!!!
Categories: Personal