Ten illegal migrants drown
Ten illegal immigrant Indonesians, including two pregnant women, drowned when their boat capsized in rough seas off the southern coast, maritime authorities said yesterday. The bodies of five men and five women and the rickety wooden boat they were traveling in washed ashore earlier in the week, marine police official Mohammad Muhi said. The group was believed to be illegally journeying back to Batam, Indonesia from Johor state, Mohammad said. A search and rescue operation is underway because the ill-fated boat could have carried up to 35 people, he said.
Airline strike threat shelved
The union representing Cathay Pacific flight crews yesterday said it had shelved plans for industrial action over the Christmas holidays after the airline agreed to improve their working conditions. Staff had threatened to stop serving alcohol and smiling at passengers as part of a “work-to-rule” action over a salary dispute that could have thrown hundreds of flight schedules into chaos. However, the 6,000-strong Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union said it had decided to call it off after reaching a deal with the flag carrier following a two-day negotiation mediated by the territory’s labor department.
Branson to be stewardess
British billionaire Richard Branson will finally wear a red skirt and serve as a stewardess on Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia in May next year after losing a Grand Prix bet with the founder of the airline. Virgin boss Branson and AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes had agreed in 2010 that whichever of their teams (then Virgin and Lotus) finished lower in the constructors’ championship in their debut season, the losing owner would serve on the other’s airline. Branson lost as Lotus finished 10th and Virgin 12th, but the trip was postponed early last year after Branson injured himself while skiing.
The principal of a top high school was removed yesterday from his post and is being investigated by the anti-corruption bureau, authorities said. Former River Valley High School headmaster Steven Koh Yong Chiah, 58, was replaced “with effect from 20 December 2012,” the education ministry said in a statement. It said Koh had been redeployed while the investigation was under way. “The Ministry of Education has been informed by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau that Mr Steven Koh Yong Chiah, principal of River Valley High School, is assisting in its investigation,” the statement read.
Banker to be extradited
A court yesterday ordered the extradition of a fugitive Italian banker found guilty of laundering money for some of Italy’s top mobsters through New York pizzerias in the 1970s and 1980s. Dressed in an orange prison uniform, Vito Roberto Palazzolo told a judge: “This is not the rule of law!” Palazzolo was convicted in Italy in 2006 following the “Pizza Connection” investigation, which exposed a US$1.6 billion heroin and cocaine smuggling operation from 1975 to 1984. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for links to the Mafia. The 65-year-old Sicilian was arrested at Bangkok’s airport on March 30 as he prepared to board a flight to South Africa, his adopted homeland, where he went by the name Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko. The Criminal Court in Bangkok said the extradition will take at least 30 days.