At a working conference Tuesday, the local industrial and commercial department in Sanya, Hainan Province admitted that thorough investigation shows that a local restaurant, which was recently exposed on Weibo for its excessive prices, did swindle and mislead customers. Its business license will be revoked and it will be imposed a high fine.
The admission did not come easily. The local authorities first ignored it, then tried to hide it and then argued irrationally and even tried to bully people, before they finally admitted the facts of the case and apologized for their previous lack of action on the matter.
They were reluctant to admit the scandal, because they were trying to maintain the good image of Sanya as a tourist city. But the perseverance of netizens and consumers finally succeeded.
Similar scandals are inevitable in other cities. It is a test of the capability of administrators at various levels to effectively deal with public problems, which only become worse if handled poorly.
It is not only Sanya that has been reluctant to admit the facts after a scandal emerged. This is usually the first choice for many local governments facing negative events. They try to shut investigations down or pretend the incident never happened.
Unlike in the past, such tricks don't work in the Internet era, when they can be easily exposed online.
It is also noticeable that more and more local governments have begun to realize that it is better to admit the mistake and apologize quickly when a problem emerges, rather than to keep silent or cover things up. Otherwise the cover-up can do far more harm than the original mistake.
Of course, local governments should not stop at admitting mistakes. They should turn their apology into actions in finding out the root of the problem and solving it completely.
This time, local government also mentioned in the conference other problems in the supervision of the tourist market. Thorough reflection is a good start. The authorities in Sanya might have realized that hiding such problems will only get them in hot water.