Out of Fairness and Impartiality, an Imperial Clerk Speaks His Mind
(Minghui.org) Dong Wenzhong served on the staff of Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan, who is known in Chinese culture as Emperor Shizu of Yuan. Kublai Khan reigned from 1260 to 1294, and was a grandson of the notorious Genghis Khan. Dong Wenzhong was in charge of Kublai Khan's imperial seal. He was known for his integrity, impartiality, and courage to speak his mind.
Shows Courage Despite Adversity
Two incidents were reported to Kublai Khan. In the first incident, it was alleged that a Han Chinese killed a Mongol. In the second incident, a cashier of the imperial warehouse, named Lu Jia, was said to have stolen a piece of cloth for use in the imperial palace.
Kublai Khan was angered and ordered an immediate execution of the offenders to serve as a warning to other would-be offenders. Although the evidence surrounding the two incidents were not that strong, none of the cabinet officials dared to raise any question given the rage displayed by the emperor.
Dong Wenzhong was the only one who dared to speak his mind despite the risk of upsetting the emperor. He said that neither of the alleged crimes had conclusive evidence.
“When someone faces a death penalty, confessions from the suspects, under existing law, have to be proven,” he said. “We should not apply capital punishment simply based on a single source. I would suggest that these two cases be double checked by judicial officials.”
Kublai Khan took his words to heart and asked Dong and another cabinet official Tuman to re-examine the cases separately. It turned out that both suspects were wrongfully prosecuted. Dong advised that the two innocent people be released.
Importance of Fairness in Judicial Cases
After Lu Jia, the cashier at the imperial warehouse, was released, he prepared lavish gifts for Dong, and said that he owed his second life to Dong.
“We are not acquaintances,” said Dong. “I reversed the order of immediate execution because I wanted to make sure that the law is applied fairly to anyone in the country. How could I expect any gifts in return?”
Word got out that Dong Wenzhong was not afraid of speaking his mind to uphold the fairness and dignity of the judicial system, even when he had to face the emperor's anger. Yet, when the exonerated victim brought him gifts, he refused to accept them. The public praised Dong for his integrity and impartiality.
Dong set an example for his subordinates. He taught them by example to follow the teachings of Confucius and Mencius: to live one's life by adhering to moral principles, and to persuade others through kindness rather than enforce uniformity by using one's power.