The Straits Times
Published on Oct 14, 2012

Former Chinese official sheds light on dark side of power


HONG KONG (AFP) - "Politics is an ugly business," says an official in Chinese author Wang Xiaofang's novel, The Civil Servant's Notebook.

"You always need to keep a knife in reserve, even for your own boss." Delving into the darkness of Chinese bureaucracy, Wang depicts a world of intrigue where those at the top lose sight of their principles in the race for political power.

It's a world that Wang is familiar with, having begun his own career in the civil service and risen through the ranks of officialdom to become private secretary to the deputy mayor of one of China's biggest cities.

But then scandal erupted, and Wang's boss - Ma Xiangdong, the deputy mayor of the city of Shenyang - was sentenced to death in 2001 for gambling away more than US$3.6 million (S$4.4 million) of embezzled funds in Macau casinos.