Bus boss hands out bonuses
A bus operator has stunned his employees by handing out A$15 million (US$16 million) in thank you bonuses, with workers saying yesterday they were overwhelmed by his generosity. Ken Grenda, 79, sold his family-run company after 66 years and decided to put a chunk of the profits into the pockets of his employees for their hard work and loyalty. Many of his 1,800 workers thought their banks had made an error when they discovered thousands of dollars in their accounts, the Herald Sun reported. They received an average A$8,500, although some got bonuses as high as A$100,000. Vernon Franklin, a driver at the company, said he was blown away by the gesture. “I was overwhelmed with the generosity of Mr Grenda,” he told Channel Nine. “I think we are losing a great man.”
Wukan begins poll process
Villagers whose rebellion against local officials last year grabbed the headlines initiated a key process yesterday that will see them hold their first-ever open, democratic elections. Residents in Wukan, Guangdong Province, won rare concessions after they faced off with authorities for more than a week in December in a row over land and graft, including pledges to hold free village polls. China allows villagers across the country to vote for a committee to represent them, but Wukan residents said their leaders had never before allowed these polls to go ahead in an open fashion. However, yesterday they were due to openly select an independent election committee that would supervise their first democratic poll next month.
Defense official probed
The government said it is looking into whether a Defense Ministry official broke the law by urging his staff to vote in a mayoral election this month. Ro Manabe, director of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, last month called a meeting of employees about the election in Ginowan, the site of a US military base at the center of a dispute between local residents and the government, lawmaker Seiken Akamine said in parliament on Tuesday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said yesterday an investigation so far has found no indication that Manabe broke any laws.
Three facing death penalty
Two Germans and a Moroccan are facing the death penalty on charges of smuggling more than 10kg of methamphetamine. A district court near Kuala Lumpur International Airport charged the three men on Jan. 13 with drug trafficking, a customs official who declined to be named said. Airport officials arrested the men arriving from Istanbul on Jan. 1.
Baboons looting trucks
Troops of bag-snatching, truck-looting baboons are causing chaos at a border post between Zimbabwe and Zambia in daily raids for food, NewsDay reported on Tuesday. “Baboons are an issue that must be dealt with here because they destroy travelers’ goods,” Zimbabwe Revenue Authority station manager Tichaona Phiri said. “Sometimes they bite or clap people on their faces if they try to defend their property, and they can snatch ladies’ handbags and even destroy cars as they search for food.” They also tear up sacks of maize on trucks moving through the border. “These baboons can smell maize on trucks and considering their huge numbers, it is very difficult to control them, but the problem is that they behave like human beings and are very good tricksters,” he said.