It is probably fair to say that Huang Yubiao, a 64 year-old real estate tycoon from Hunan province, was never really cut out for politics.
Last year Huang tried unsuccessfully to stand for China’s National People’s Congress. This year he set his sights a tad lower and attempted to join his local legislature. But his failure was even more high-profile on this occasion, after it emerged that he had spent Rmb320,000 ($51,300) bribing delegates and still not managed to get ‘elected’.
Furious with the rejection, Huang demanded the return of his funds, this time secretly filming those who he had tried to influence. Many did return the money. But armed with the evidence, Huang then posted “tell-all” confessions on several websites in an apparent attempt to force a revote.
“This Congress was voted in through bribery and shady dealings,” he wrote. “I care about my home town and I wish to see an end to this kind of behaviour.”
Huang claims he paid bribes against his conscience and under the instructions of a local Communist Party chief.
“I firstly prepared more than 470 envelopes with Rmb1,000 yuan in each and presented 320 of them to voters. Then I lost heart, so I stopped,” he said.
Whether Huang really had second thoughts or simply felt he had already secured the necessary votes is not clear. But what is plainer is that he hasn’t won much praise for coming clean. Newspapers were soon calling for him to face criminal charges, although Huang argues that by confessing to the act and getting the money back he has no case to answer.
But netizens have been scathing in their assessment. “He wouldn’t have said a word if he was elected. He should face the legal repercussions of his actions,” wrote one Sina Weibo user, while others simply posted the Chinese proverb “giving your enemy a wife while losing a soldier” (which equates to the English idiom ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’).
Others marvelled that Huang thought he could buy the election so cheaply.
“Who is this idiot? Everyone knows that even the price of a vote for a village Party secretary is higher than Rmb1,000,” laughed one contributor.
“Others must simply have paid more than him,” suggested another.
Indeed, that is probably what happened. “Some candidates paid Rmb2,000 to Rmb3,000 each. That is how they won,” Huang bemoaned in one of his mea culpas.
That suggests a seat could be bought in the local legislature in Hunan for less than Rmb1 million. Not an insignificant sum, obviously, but a trifle compared to what it costs to run for office in the United States.
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