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Gaffe puts official in hot water

A HENAN Province government official has been suspended for a verbal gaffe that clashed with Communist Party doctrine, asking an investigative reporter, "Will you speak for the Party? Or will you speak for the people?"

The comment was broadcast nationwide, and Internet users nominated it as the catch phrase for 2009.

Some Netizens named Lu "the official who dares most to speak the truth during 2009."

Lu Jun, the urban planning development vice director of Zhengzhou, capital of the central China province, made the comment to a reporter probing a development issue, apparently angry that the journalist was raising questions about official actions.

Embarrassed superiors quickly reprimanded Lu Jun for his remarks, which were broadcast by China National Radio on June 17. He was suspended pending further investigation.

"Lu Jun has been suspended for an improper sentence he uttered, which is contrary to the purpose of the Communist Party of China," Yao Daixian, head of the Organization Department of the Party's Zhengzhou City Committee, told Xinhua news agency. The department oversees Party personnel issues.

Lu Jun denied making the statement, Yao said.

China National Radio reporter Ren Leiping had been investigating a suspicious property scheme in Zhengzhou's Xigang village, where a developer who was given permission to build affordable housing for low-income people instead erected 12 villas and two mid-rise buildings.

According to Xinhua, Ren had asked Lu Jun to comment on the scheme but said he found his response hard to understand.

"Because it is common sense in China that the media are the mouthpiece of the Party of government, which is there to serve the people," Xinhua quoted the reporter said.

Lu got in trouble because his comment implied that the Party and the people were mutually exclusive, local authorities said yesterday.

The CPC Constitution states that the Party represents "the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people."

Wu Zhongmin, professor of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told Xinhua, "The interests of the people and the Party are identical, but Lu put them in opposition. Lu represents some Party officials who try to obtain personal gains in the name of the Party."


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