Wang Dingmian: A whistleblower’s whistblower

Businesses and governments could learn a lot about whistleblowing from Wang Dingmian.  [photo: Guanzhou, China by Jakob Montrasio]

Wang Dingmian, the director of the Guangzhou Dairy Industry Association, knows how to treat whistleblowers. For ten years, Wang has encouraged whistleblowers in China to report problems to him. When problems are not corrected, he forwards the disclosures to newspapers.

Sometimes, Wang’s sources get cold feet and retract their statements.  But, Wang stands firm despite threatening calls from individuals who prefer to sweep problems under the rug.

“I asked the enterprises at a meeting in 2002 whether they would stop deceiving consumers bypassing off powdered milk as raw milk. Nearly 100 enterprises were present at the meeting, andthey all kept silent,” Wang recalled.

He was angry and called the media.

“I had been waiting for the enterprises to correct their errors. But they remained unrepentant, soI had to force them to take action with the help of public opinion,” Wang explained. [China Daily]

The Chinese government has been trying to tighten regulation of the milk industry since a 2008  scandal involving melamine-tainted milk that killed at least six children.  Another 300,000 Chinese children fell sick.  Chinese authorities executed two men in 2009 for producing melamine-laced milk and protein powder and jailed another 19 people, handing out sentences ranging from five years to life.  Authorities also revoked the licenses of 426 dairies and required 107 others to make specified improvements. But, problems remain, and Wang has not hesitated to acknowledge them.

Wang, the son of “upright and honest” farmers, honed his skills at catching lawbreakers as a policeman for 16 years before taking his first job in the dairy industry in 1968.  When he retires in three years, he plans to “persist in doing what I think is rightand contribute to the crackdown on illegal acts in the dairy industry.”

The world could use more Wang Dingmians.

[Photo by @yakobusan Jakob Montrasio, @Flickr Creative Commons]