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January 22, 2015

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Officials dine on sushi as 36 people die

AS people fought for their lives on the Bund on New Year’s Eve, 10 officials responsible for the safe management of the area sat at a Japanese restaurant drinking sake and eating sushi.

Zhou Wei, Party secretary of Huangpu district, and district director Peng Song were the highest ranking of the officials at the late-night feast. Both have since been dismissed from their posts.

Earlier in the evening, the officials had attended a celebration at Bund Origin Cultural Square, the city’s Party discipline watchdog said yesterday.

They left about 11pm and headed to the Utsusemi Japanese restaurant at the Yifeng shopping mall.

The eatery is an asset of Shanghai Bund Investment Group, a local state-owned firm, whose Chairman Zhou Xumin was among the diners, the commission said in a statement.

When the officials arrived at the restaurant they were told that service had ended.

Undeterred, they remained at their tables and ordered a selection of dishes and drinks from the Ichikura eatery opposite. It, too, is owned by Shanghai Bund Investment Group.

According to the commission’s report, the party of 10 tucked into sushi, ramen and rice dumplings, washed down with sake and other beverages.

Though the meal cost more than 2,700 yuan (US$435), no one was asked to pay, meaning it was effectively paid for by the public, the commission said.

The meal was interrupted only when news reached the officials of the tragedy that was unfolding on the Bund.

In December 2012, the Communist Party introduced a frugality campaign — often referred to as the eight-point rules — designed to stamp out extravagance among officials and improve public relations.

The names of Zhou Wei and Peng Song were yesterday added to a list of more than 100,000 officials punished under the scheme since its inception.


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