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Community convinces leader to retake post

By ZHANG KUN in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-13 09:46

Community leader Ma Shengye had no idea that his shock resignation from his post last week would be met with such a wave of gratitude and support from the residents he was responsible for.

Party secretary and head of the residents' committee for Haiyue Garden, Ma had been working flat-out since the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai intensified in mid-March.

With similar situations flaring up across the city of 26 million people, at first Ma and his team struggled to efficiently organize mass testing and make sure that enough supplies were getting to the right places and right people.

Nonetheless, the hardworking community leader slept in his office, got up at the crack of dawn and worked until past midnight to serve his community. His responsibilities ranged from organizing the mass testing of residents, arranging for confirmed positive cases to be transferred to medical facilities and helping refill people's medical prescriptions to answering residents' questions and requests.

"We were not very well-prepared, at first, for the large crowds that gathered to wait for their COVID tests, and some people spoke out sharply, challenging my competency as the community leader," Ma told People's Daily.

In residential communities, Party secretaries of residents' committees are often nicknamed "premier of the lane", as their job is to manage all public affairs, hear everybody's voice and try to solve their problems.

"I am over 50 years old, and these harsh words hurt quite badly. But then we made adjustments and placed more volunteers in the group to keep order … As of now we have organized 15 mass nucleic tests among the residents, and managed to keep good order and efficiency."

In the end, the emotional toll of the job got to Ma and he posted his resignation letter in the community WeChat group on April 7.

In the letter he tried to explain his understanding of the problems and loopholes in the community management. He also wrote about the frustration of being blamed for some things that were out of his control.

Ma's resignation was widely shared online and in just a few days after it was posted it had been read over 100,000 times.

The response to his resignation letter was not what he expected. Whereas before he had faced criticism, now he was receiving messages of appreciation for his hard work during his tenure as the Haiyue community leader.

"I only got to know you because of the pandemic. I've witnessed everything you did for Haiyue. You'll have my full support whatever you decide to do," said one message.

"We need a good Party secretary like you, especially in the hard time we have now. You are down to earth, honest with us, and always have the people of Haiyue on your mind. Come on, stay with us," said another.

In the wake of the community response, Party secretary of Wuliqiao subdistrict, Cao Jiong, convinced Ma to continue at his post, hugging him tight and asking him to "hang in there".

"You can count on me," Ma told Cao. "I am aware that at least during the fight against the pandemic outbreak, I am useful in this community. I see people need me here."

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