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December 19, 2009

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Rigged hearing apology

THE consumers' association of Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, has apologized for stacking a public hearing with delegates of its choosing to approve water price rises.

Song Yuzhang, the association's secretary general, admitted that it had wrongly identified some of the 13 representatives at the hearing, China Youth Daily reported yesterday.

According to the pricing bureau, the panel included two retired workers, two teachers, two community workers, a company worker, a company official, an office worker, a lawyer and a medical worker.

But China Youth Daily challenged their status, finding the lawyer was a legal volunteer and a laid-off worker was actually a retired official. One of the retired workers was a laid-off worker.

Despite the mistake, the pricing authority will charge more for water, according to the bureau's vice director Yang Hui.

Yang said the result was effective and lawful due to the hearing's proper procedure and selection method.

The hearing was held on November 10, 23 days behind schedule. Twelve of the 13 delegates selected by the consumer authority approved the proposal to raise the household water rate from 1.8 yuan (26 US cents) per cubic meter to 2.4 yuan, the report said.


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