Why The Visitors From Beijing Cried At The Sight Of The Bottle Of Remy Martin

Underlying this story is the truth that some visitors expect to be feasted like royalty while other visitors are totally distressed by the idea.  The latter cannot totally solve the problems created by the former.

(Nanfang Metropolis News)

There were chicken, duck and fish dishes on the dinner table and the people were drinking Remy Martin!  Looking at this luxurious meal, the guests said that they could not eat.  This made the hosts quite embarrassed and the dinner broke up amongst a great deal of unhappiness.

Last night, the Qingxin County Department of Education leaders ate a meal that they will never forget -- the volunteers who came from Beijing for the purpose of helping impoverished university students asked them in turn at the dinner table just how many improverished students would a luxurious meal like that helped in terms of solving practical problems?

These volunteers came from Beijing on behalf of the China Foundation For Poverty Alleviation to meet with local impoverished university students so that they can write a report to recommend just how the Foundation can render financial assistance effectively.  After two days, the three volunteers were satisifed with the progress of their work, but they were not happy with their "reception."  It was not because the reception was lacking, but because the "luxurious" style of the reception made them uncomfortable: each meal cost a few hundred yuan, they were given entire cases of mineral water, the air-conditioning on the vehicle was running before they got in ...

These conditions contrasted strongly with the dreadful situations of the impoverished university students: the family income was less than 2,000 yuan per year, all three children were faced with the prospect of having to drop out of school, the home was delipidated with cardboard sheets plugging the holes on the roof, they did not want to spend fifty-cents to buy an egg to eat at school ... when the volunteers saw these scenes, they were stunned.  But they were even more stunned by the "luxurious" meal last night.

Last night, the field work was finally done and the volunteers and their receiver were relieved.  The Department of Education leaders wanted to thank them, and hosted them at dinner.  When they brought the volunteers into the previously reserved suite, the volunteers began to look unhappy but out of politeness only half-jokingly said, "This is too luxurious, and not quite commensurate with an impoverished county!"

When the food was brought up, the volunteers could no longer sit still.  There were chicken, duck and fish.  There were only a few people present, but the table was covered with food -- chicken, duck, fish, meat, everything.  As they toasted each other, the "country bumpkin" volunteer asked, "What are we drinking?  I have never drank this before."  The Department of Education leader said proudly, "Remy Martin!"  Although the volunteers have never drank this before, they knew the standing of Remy Martin amongst western liquor!  The volunteers got angry.  One of the volunteers said: "We came here to help the poor.  We did not come here to eat and drink and feast ourselves.  I can't eat this!"

All the volunteers then began to cry.  Another volunteer said: "This meal that we had today could have let a university student live several months decently.  Those university students have never seen anything like this.  The students are all undernourished and underweight.  It ached my heart to see them like that.  I had the idea that maybe we could get them to come out and have a good meal with us, but I don't dare because it might hurt them.  Imagine that if they knew that a reception meal from the Department of Education equals several months of their living expenses, could they still eat anything?"

These words stunned the leaders from the Qingxin County Department of Education.  They were embarrassed and tried to explain: "We do this out of our respect for our distinguished guests.  Ordinarily, our own working meals are just rice boxes."  But these explanations did not appease the volunteers.  Later that night after ten o'clock, the leaders showed up again and said, "We have split up the costs of the Remy Martin personally amongst ourselves (人头马我们AA了。)."

(Nanfang Metropolis News via Yahoo! News)

After the story was published yesterday, netizens began to pay attention to the three volunteers, guessing that they would be university students.  Actually, the three volunteers are not university students.  The youngest amongst them was almost 30 years old already.  They came from various professions -- one is a client service manager at a television station, another is a Chinese language teacher and the third is an employee at a cultural company.  All three described themselves as not being wealthy.  They paid their own way this time hoping that their actions will cause more people to care about impoverished university students.

Yesterday afternoon, our reporter interviewed one of the volunteers right before she boarded the train.  She insisted that we should not disclose her name.  She was also concerned that when people read about the story, they would lose their confidence in the China Foundation For Poverty Alleviation.  "If people don't donate as a result, we would have caused great harm to the impoverished students."

Q: Many netizens thought that treating someone to Remy Martin during dinner is quite ordinary.  What do you think?
A: Just because people think that it is ordinary does not mean it is correct or reasonable.  It is definitely wrong to eat and drink off public funds.  This is an abnormal social behavior.

Q:  Including treating important guests?
A: The government's money is the taxpayers' money.  If the government authorities control these resources and spend as they feel like, then this is unfair to the taxpayers.  My ideal is a social climate in which every cent that the government spends should be monitored by the taxpayers.

Q: Many people under what you mean, but they don't oppose as vigorously as you did.
A: I must first adimit that it has to do with personality.  I am relatively more serious.  Last night I wrote a SMS to a friend about this, and she told me what I did wrong again -- once again, I've caused trouble.

Q: Apart from personality?
A: The constrast was too vast.  We just met so many students who could not afford tuition fees, and then we immediately ate and dine.  I really couldn't eat.  (At this point, her voice breaks down).  At any other place, I might have held it all inside instead of expressing it so strongly.

Q: You have not previously taken part in this sort of publicly funded banquets?
A: Most likely not.  I heard that this sort of thing is quite common.  I am sorry about these undeground rules and I am also very disappointed.  I cry for my our whole society.

Q: If you ever encounter these types of situations again, what would you do?
A: I'll try to avoid it.  I won't participate.  I remember that before we set off, one volunteer said, "I know that there is a limit as to what any individual can do.  I did it.  Did you?"  It is the same reasoning.   You start with yourself and you start now.  If everyone can think this way, then things will get better, right?

(Nanfang Metropolis News via Yahoo! News)

Following our report yesterday, the Qingxin County Party Committee and Government leaders paid a high level of attention to this matter.  The Department of Education criticised the cadres involved, requiring them to provide written self-criticisms.  Also, all reception meals will take place in the Department of Education's cafeteria from now on. 

For this particular dinner, the number of companions was five, which was against the regulations.  The cost of the meal was also against the regulations -- nine people with six dishes and one soup at 267 yuan plus one bottle of Remy Martin at 220 yuan.  According to information, the cost for the Remy Martin has been distributed among the five cadres, at 44 yuan apiece.