Lost for Words

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/15 21:05:45

City transport official suspended for failing to clear illegal taxis after clumsy TV appearance


Photo: Screenshot of news.cctv.com

The former director of a city district's transportation bureau in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province was suspended for failing to answer questions on a TV program for his ineffective work in tackling the long-existing illegal taxi problem.

A video clip of Liu Pengwu on February 11 went viral, in which Liu was rendered speechless by a battery of questions from the host on Gaoling district's prevalence of unlicensed taxies.

'Soul interrogation'

"How long have you been the director of the transportation bureau?" The host asked, adding that "Three years! How come the three problems still need another round of investigation after three years?"

"So, you don't have a clue about why unlicensed taxies are so rampant?"

"Can you not handle or dare not handle (these problems)?"

Liu said, "Um, I know, um, the previous investigation was not thorough, and I hope to get the problems solved through exposure from this TV program."

Ironically, the transportation bureau is located across the bus station.

"Did you notice the reported problem since your office is right across the bus station?" the show host asked. Liu dodged the question.

Gaoling is 40 kilometers north of downtown Xi'an, which was a prefecture before being upgraded as a district of the city. As far as Liu is concerned, one of the reasons for the district's rampant unlicensed taxies is the relatively weak infrastructure construction and weak management of the bureau.

Jointly hosted by the city's Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China and the TV station, the livestreamed TV program "Hotline of the conduct of the Party and government" of the Xi'an TV station was launched in July 2017 aimed at seeking solutions from the government for the daily problems of the people.

Recurrent problem

According to an investigation by the TV program on January 28, some 20 private vehicles were parked on both sides of the road in front of the district's passenger depot station, and their owners were busy searching for passengers coming out of the station.

Several motorcycle taxi riders asked the reporter where he was heading. When asked whether they would be checked halfway, the rider said that the traffic police rarely check on them.

Because of the absence of supervision, these unlicensed taxis and motorcycles seek rides in front of the station's exit or in the middle of the road. Many passengers shunned them for their excessively "passionate" solicitation.

A previous report also showed Gaoling's unlicensed taxi problem. On July 30, 2018, a citizen filed a complaint on a government advise-seeking platform about an unlicensed taxi driver who hurt a passenger. Four days later, Gaoling's transportation bureau said that the authority launched a campaign targeting illegal and unlicensed taxis. Twenty-one illegal taxis were punished and more than 150 such cases were corrected.

Special supervision

The TV program has attracted rave reviews online. A netizen said that the program is doing good for the people as it pushes the government to do more.

Program host He Hong also won praise for his sharp language and humor. Netizens said He gave many officials "soul interrogations" in the previous episodes. 

People's Daily, the official publication of the CPC, reposted the video Wednesday on its Sina Weibo account, China's Twitter-like social media platform, saying that the program hit directly at the slackness in government. Instead of intentionally creating an embarrassing scene, the conflict poked at the core of the problem. The post also said that compared to the hot discussion, people were more concerned about the city management. Responsibility comes along with power, and media needs more pointed hosts.

The Xinhua News Agency said on Wednesday that in front of these "soul interrogations," officials should have the courage to question the slackness at work, and more importantly, be active and able to solve every single "small matter" related to people's welfare.

A statement released by Gaoling authorities on Friday said that a two-month management campaign on the problem will be launched, and the district's commission for discipline and inspection authority has joined the investigation. Government employees will be punished once found breaching the law and regulations.

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