Saturday March 16, 2013
Loss of a people’s mayor
MADE IN CHINA
By CHOW HOW BAN
Hangzhou mayor Shao Zhanwei, described as a down-to-earth leader, worked his way up from the grassroots.
THE Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) observed a minute of silence to mourn the death of one of its members during its full meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8.
The brief condolence speech delivered by NPC secretary-general Li Jianguo brought a sudden solemn mood to the packed hall where the 2,900-odd delegates were earlier in high spirits to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Two days later, hundreds of people including government, corporate leaders and ordinary folks flocked to the Hangzhou Funeral Service Hall in Zhejiang province for the funeral of NPC deputy and Hangzhou mayor Shao Zhanwei.
Shao suffered a heart attack during the meeting at about 9am on March 6. He was declared dead at 3.26pm after hours of rescue operations at a hospital.
Described by colleagues and Hangzhou residents as “a good mayor and a real people’s representative,” Shao, 58, left behind his wife, son and a granddaughter.
Chinese media reported that Shao was supposed to chair a meeting with NPC delegates from Zhejiang province at 9am on that day but he did not show up.
The meeting was then chaired by Jiaxing mayor Lu Jun.
During a discussion on measures to conserve the environment at about 10am, several Hangzhou city leaders excused themselves from the meeting and looked grim after receiving information about Shao’s death.
It was reported that the organising committee staff had knocked on the door of Shao’s hotel room after he failed to turn up for the meeting.
Later, they found Shao lying unconscious on the floor and rushed him to the hospital.
According to Hangzhou Municipal People’s Congress Standing Committee vice-chairman Chen Zhenlian, the mayor was a very friendly person who worked hard for the people.
“We took the same flight to Beijing on March 2 for the meeting. He was sitting next to me.
“He was a person who had no airs at all. We joked around on board the flight.
“He amused me and did not look as if he had a frail body,” Chen was quoted by Qianjiang Evening News as saying.
Chen revealed that Shao postponed his trip to Beijing and joined the rest of the delegation from Hangzhou a few days later to finish his work at his office.
He spent long hours preparing his speech in a group discussion chaired by the new NPC Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang on March 5.
The night before his death, Shao worked in his hotel room until 11pm, said Chen.
Citing examples on how down-to-earth and dedicated Shao was to his job, Chen said he met Shao in the same lift on the latter’s second day at work as the mayor in July 2010.
Shao told Chen that he visited markets in the city to inspect prices of fresh produce in the wake of a sharp increase in the consumer price index.
Shao’s first response was, “The vegetable prices are too high!”
“He worked his way up to the top from the grassroots. He had the habit of solving problems from the people’s perspective,” Chen said.
“After our discussion on March 5, we took a photo with comrade Zhang.
“The women, provincial and municipal-level cadres would usually stand at the front row, but Shao stood at the corner of the second row instead and modestly said that he was okay.”
Between 2000 and 2010, Shao was the vice-mayor of Ningbo and Wenzhou mayor before his promotion to helm Hangzhou, the wealthy provincial capital of Zhejiang.
Shao was a well-respected man who had a good reputation among the people, as shown in several candlelight vigil assemblies organised by the public in Hangzhou in tribute to him as well as through comments posted on the Internet.
A Netizen by the moniker “fazhi yangchong tou” said that Shao’s father was a retired cadre and once told Shao that he did not want him to bring anything except a copy of Wenzhou Daily so that he would be able to read about what Shao was really doing for the people as Wenzhou’s mayor.
Wu Bingxin, the sister of bus driver Wu Bin who became a national hero for his selfless act of driving his passengers to safety while on the brink of death following an accident where an iron object had flown into the bus and pierced his stomach, did not forget to tweet about Shao who had offered he r help and condolences for her brother’s death.
“Let’s mourn the passing of mayor Shao and pray that there is no heart disease in heaven,” she said.
While urging other politicians to emulate Shao, the media cautioned civil servants not to neglect their health in view of the staggering statistics that indicate about 230 million people in China are at high risk of developing heart problems.