My Dad Was A Corrupt Official
The modus operandi (m.o.) is well known. A Chinese government or party official with a theoretical monthly salary of several thousand yuan somehow manages to accumulate millions or more through improper methods available to a person in his position. Good things don't necessarily last forever, and some of these officials get nailed. This post is based upon a couple of recent stories from the children of corrupt officials.
The first story is an anonymous story published in an overseas Chinese-language newspaper Huapao (via Boxun). The interviewee is a 22-year-old student whose father was arrested last year in Harbin. Here is the summary:
When I first came to Canada, I rented a room and shared a house. I wanted to be a hardworking and frugal student. Later, I rented a one-room apartment in order to have greater freedom and have more fun with my friends. Then I began to spend money like crazy. All my clothes were brand-names. I have dined with my friends at all the northeastern Chinese restaurants in Toronto. I spent several thousands dollars on a toy model. I bought a desktop computer and then I bought a notebook computer. I got a girlfriend and I bought her the latest LV handbag. I though her and her friends to the casino, and we spent 10,000 dollars a night without a thought.
Do I know that the money came through improper means? I always knew that people came to see my father about business. But I did not know what those meeting were about, and I didn't even know what my father's salary was. Later on, I figured out that my father didn't want me to know what he did. He did not want his son to see his bad side.
In 2003, stories came out from Heilongjiang province that many officials were in trouble. Then my family began to send me money through many methods, sometimes in large amounts and sometimes small, but they added up to a large total. I asked my mother for an explanation, but she said "Don't ask. Just deposit the money." And then the story came that my parents had been arrested.
Here is the bottomline:
As a man, I am a cowardly, selfish weakling. As a son, I have no filial piety. I know that I ought to return my father's money to the government to lighten his crime and get a reduction in prison term. But I did not. My family will not let me return and they will not let me send the money back. They said that things have reached the point when a few years more or less in prison won't mean anything. My father will likely not receive the death penalty, but it seems quite certain that he will get more than 10 years. My family tells me to keep the money. As for me, to tell the truth, I thought about going back but in the end I did not want to give up the money. I am scared. I am scared of having nothing left. I am afraid that if I go back, I won't be able to save my father and I will get arrested as well. I am afraid that when I go back, I will be in the bottom rung of society and I will be despised. Therse are the reasons why I don't have the courage to go back. Please forgive me! I don't have the courage to send the money back. I am even shameless enough to want to live on this sum of money. You can curse me, but I hope that you understand that I need to live.
The more interesting story appeared in Nangfang Weekend. The interviewee is not anonymous. In fact, this is Li Kun, the son of the famous Kneeling Deputy Mayor known as Li Xin.
Previously, when Nanfang Weekend first broke the story in July 2005, there was a sentence: "According to unconfirmed information, Li Xin has send the money on hand to his son Li Kun who is outside of the country." At the time, Li Kun wrote to Nanfang Weekend: "Although you say that the information is unconfirmed, I can tell you that for the entire 25 years of my life, I have never stepped out of the People's Republic of China, not even to visit any Special Administration Region."
On July 4, 2005, Li Xin was sentenced to life in prison for having taken 4.5 million yuan in bribes. On the evening of July 5, 2005, Li Xin was interviewed by Nanfang Weekend. He is currently a doctoral student at a university.
Here are the key sections from the long interview:
Even since Li Kun was little, his father Li Xin has been in leadership positions. He was the director of the Jining City Mechanical Design School, the chairman of the Development Zone, and then the deputy mayor. There are many people who showed up to ask for favors, and offers of money and gifts were to be expected. Sometimes, when the parents were not home, the visitor would chat with Li Kun and then leave the money and gifts behind. So when Li Kun was home, he had the responsibility of remembering the name of the visitor, so that his parents can return the items.
Sometimes, it is impossible to return the money. Li Kun had a friend who wanted a job transfer. The friend's father was a colleague of Li Xin when they first began working, and he left 10,000 yuan to ask for the favor. Li Xin arranged for the job transfer and then wanted to return the money. The friend would not accept it. So Li Kun's mother carefully made sure that she bought a leather coat worth more than 8,000 yuan as a gift to this friend. During the trial, the 10,000 yuan was characterized as a bribe.
In May 2004, Li Kun heard from his classmates that there was an article on the Internet in which he was named. Li Kun found the article and it was the letter of accusation by Li Yuchun against Li Xin. Li Kun did not believe it, because he was more likely to believe his father than the Internet. Or perhaps he was evading the truth.
On the afternoon of July 22, 2004, Li Kun picked up a copy of Nanfang Weekend and found the news report and the famous photo of the kneeling deputy mayor. His mind went blank as he realized that the mainstream media are reporting on this story. From there on, the stories of the Kneeling Deputy Mayor appeared everywhere. In Li Kun's view, the person in those reports was a completely alien person other than his father. Li Kun became depressed, he took up smoking, he could not sleep at night and he has a knife scar on his forearm as a result of sellf-mutilation during a night of depression.
Li Kun thought that his father was only guilty of small mistakes, which should be canceled out by this other contributions. After his father was subjected to the "double regulations," he realized that things were not that simple. Li Kun did not expect
Li Kun personally witnessed the law enforcement people finding evidence of more than 3.9 million yuan worth of financial assets at his home. He never expected that.
Li Kun has some doubts about the details of the case, especially with respect to his father's relationship with Li Yuchun and just where all the money went. He also harbored doubts about the explanation of the events around the photograph of the kneeling mayor. But for Li Kun, this is about a father that he no longer understands.
Neither of these stories are happy-talk with good moral endings. But what did you expect anyway?