Dear Minister LIU Zhijun:
How are you?
What urged me to write to you was a story I heard not long before:
JIANG Haicheng, a Beijing citizen, bought a 30-yuan-meal on the train. Somehow, he didn’t feel full after having it, so he wrote to you for complaint. The leading officials in the Wuhan Passenger Transport Office took a special trip to Beijing to apologize to Jiang Haicheng as per your requirement. I was greatly impressed when hearing this story. I couldn’t imagine it before that the Minister of Railway Ministry would care this kind of trifles. Now I have something which would be much more important than the above mentionedcomplaint concerning the legal rights of 1.5 billion passengers and stabilization of our society, that is, it should stop increasing the railway ticket prices during the Spring Festival in 2007 because it does not comply with the laws and public notions.
As we all know, the Spring Festival is the most important Chinese traditional festival. People away from home are eager to go back to their home for family gathering. This is our tradition which early forms from the ancient times. In this special period of time, the Railway Ministry should work out a way to help the passengers maintain in a good mood on their way home by filling the carriages with a joyful and jubilant atmosphere of the festival with sound and humanistic service to improve the jostle in the train and alleviate passengers’ fatigue to the furthest extend instead of making profits by increasing the prices, which not only immorally aggravate passengers’ financial burden but also spoil the holidays.
Each time during the Spring Festival, the trains will always be crowded with people, even the gangways and toilets. Passengers cannot drink or breathe. Some even wear nappies on the train. We pay more, but get worse service. Is it fair? Certainly not. This does not accord with the principle of justice stipulated in General Rule of Civil Law, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Consumers' Rights and Interests and Law of Contract, actually it’s running in the opposite direction of them.
One of the most important reasons for the price going up during the past few years is said to distribute the rush hours and balance the gap. But what about the facts? The statistics shows that the number of the passengers in 2003 was 134 million, 137 million in 2004, 140 million in 2005 and 149 million in 2006. The number will reach to an estimate of 159 million in the year of 2007. It shows that the number is keeping increasing year by year with no effect of the distributing policy. The price increase acts as an obstacle to obstruct the migrant workers who have been working hard under all kinds of sufferings and the rural students who cannot afford the ticket from returning to their home. Those migrant workers earn less than two thousand a year including the tax. Sometimes they cannot get the full payment, even no traveling expenses. Our honorable Minister, do you see their tearful eyes full of the desire for going back to home? Do you hear their sorrowful sign for home when you are reuniting with your family?
The Railway Ministry always claims that they have the right to increase the price of the tickets in accordance with the prices stipulated in The National Planning Committee Announcement on Publishing Some of Passenger Trains Implementing the Scheme of Government guided Price (hereinafter referred to as Scheme) issued by the Nation Planning Committee on Jan 27 in the year of 2002, however the said Scheme does not exclude two legal obligations of Railway Ministry, that is, reporting to State Council for approval and applying for hearings of witnesses in the mean while authorizing the Ministry to increase the ticket price to a certain extend. Skimming through the Scheme, it authorizes the Railway Ministry to set the prices within limits, but it does not give authorization to the Ministry to increase the price every Spring Festival without reporting to the State Council for approval and applying for the public hearings. Therefore, when setting the price according to the Scheme, the Railway Ministry should go through the formalities of reporting for approval and applying for public hearings abiding by No. 20, No. 23 in the Law of Price as well as No.3 and No. 14 in the Law of Government Decision on Price Hearings, otherwise it should be regarded as being illegal in procedure.
In conformity to No.27 in Constitution of Peoples’ republic of China, all state organizations must rely on peoples’ support, keep in touch with the people, keep an ear on peoples’ advices and suggestions, accept peoples’ intendance, and work hard for people. However, the Railway Ministry, a state organization, keep increasing the ticket price during the Spring Festival from 2003 to 2006 without submitting the application for hearings to Price Department in State Council, which resulted in the unavailability of the hearing meeting on Spring Festival transportation price during the last 4 years. The public hearing meeting is an important way to know the public opinions and also an effective method for the people to use their rights to participate in the management of State affairs. But what has the Railway Ministry done? They cut off the important contact channel and isolated themselves in monopolization and escaped from intendance. People cannot find a way to argue against the price increase, which caused a great number of complaints among the people. The price increase during the Spring Festival in the past few years caused instability of the society and people’ anger and hostility to the railway as well as sharpened the social conflict, which is far away from a harmonious society. Thus, the Railway Ministry should by no means make its own decision on the issue of price increase.
In 2005, I have gone to court with the Railway Ministry for several times for train attendant refused to make out invoices for shopping on the train. During this period of time, the Railway Ministry could take it into consideration and promptly came out The Announcement on Invoicing to Passengers for Meals and Shopping on the Trainand The Announcement on Further Standardizing the Operation of Stations. The both documents have strict requirements on this issue, which says, “Leaders of all the Railway Bureau, Railway Station and Railway Segment should pay highest attention to the invoicing issue and fully realize that it is an important way to maintain a good image of the railway corporate… and keep the rights to went behind the leaders and relevant responsible person’s administration responsibility for keeping on disobeying the laws”. It is filled with a tone of harshness and severeness between the lines. The Ministry immediately carried out to strengthen on the rectification and reformation of the railway stations with great efficiency, which echoes with the militarized organization style in the Railway Ministry.
According to No.14 of the Constitution of PRC, all Chinese citizens have the rights to criticize and advise on any national organization and government officials. For the coming Spring Festival, I am still in the hope that the Railway Ministry could comply with the public opinions, comply with the trend of the history and comply with the trend of democracy and nomocracy. Please indeed strive for people with your power and bring benefits to them instead of bursting out the war in the court.
A Citizen of PRCHao Jinsong