In response to the netizens’ talks and comments about the “eluding cat” incident, the Yunnan provincial Publicity Department's Press and Publication Administration decided to form an investigative committee on Feb 20. Moreover, the department had invited netizens to form a investigative committee. In a few hours, 510 netizens registered to be involved in the committee, and the Yunnan government randomly selected 8 netizens and public members as part of the committee, together with 3 official representatives and 3 media representatives. The incident of course shows how netizens’ power in giving pressure to the government, however, many doubt the investigative committee being a PR show for cooling down the public discontent.
Eluding the cat incident
ESWN has translated “eluding the cat” incident on 17 of Feb. In brief, a young Yunnan man Li Qiaoming was arrested for illegal logging in Beicheng town. He was then seriously injured in the detention center in Feb 8 and died in four days because of brain injury. The police report said that he ran into a wall when he was playing “eluding the cat” game with other jail mates.
The whole story was so incredible and netizens started to use “eluding the cat” in their online jokes.
Internet popular terms are very powerful in China, earlier on we have Weng'an “push ups”, and it has discredited local government even though the final report came out and showed that local police hadn't lie about the incident – the suspect was doing push ups on the bridge when the girl drowned herself in the river.
Recruiting netizens for investigation
In order to prevent history from recurring, the Yunnan publicity department acted on it by inviting netizens to do investigation (via ESWN). Netizen, end of the wind, was appointed as the head of the netizen committee, while marginal citizen, as the deputy.
End of the wind reported in cat898 forum (in Feb 19) to other netizens about his appointment and swore that he would try his best to find out the truth:
Probably I was the first to make the call for registration, the line got through in my first call. The officer written down my avatar, my real name, my identity, phone number, QQ number. Later the line is all jammed.
At around 10:30, I saw the investigator list on the Yunnan net and surprisingly, I became the head of the netizen committee.
However, I don't know whether or not the government would accept our schedule demand. I have a plan according to my netizens’ friend and my own idea, however, I need to discuss with others. Whether or not it works, depends on the police department's approval.
Why publicity department?
There are up till now 43 pages of comments in the post. Many said that the Yunnan government is being open minded for recruiting netizens into the committee, some pointed out that it is not the task of “publicity department” to conduct an investigation.
Eye medicine said
Ba la said:
At 8:30am, Feb 20, the investigation committee had their hearing at the Jinning policy station. It is more like a press release with netizen participation, as according to local report (reposted by gzjiangxia008):
The police department admitted that they have to be responsible for Li's death in the detention center. However the deputy of the police department in the county said that they have not found any error in the police's work, and they would be willing to take up responsibility according to the result of the investigation.
Marginal Citizen concluded that: As the committee doesn't have a clear role in the legal system, unlike what people have been imagining, there isn't much for us to see.
Show for a Lie?
My opinion (via inmediahk.net) is that the propaganda department is trying to prevent a public opinion bomb from being exploding but it in turn challenges the credibility of police and justice department. According to BBC's report:
As for the invitation of Yunnan Netizen to participate in the investigation, 49.7% netizens believed that it is probably a show and it is yet to see the effect of the participation. 45.5% said that the arrangement is creative and can further develop democracy, it shows the investigation is open and transparent.
How about you? What's your opinion?