CRCC receptions punished
Eight employees of the country’s largest railway building firm have been punished for spending more than US$137 million on receptions, the state-run Global Times reported yesterday, the latest move in the leadership’s much-publicized anti-corruption drive. The newspaper did not give details of the punishment, but said another 57 employees of the state-owned China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) have been reprimanded, and one faces prosecution. According to the company’s annual report in March last year, CRCC spent 837 million yuan (US$137 million) on receptions in one year — equivalent to about 10 percent of its profits last year. The report comes amid public anger at official misconduct and a campaign by President Xi Jinping (習近平), who took office earlier this year pledging to tackle corruption at all levels of government.
Territory allows gay marriage
Provincial lawmakers for the Australian Capital Territory, which includes the capital, voted yesterday to allow same-sex marriage, a first for the country, but the federal government says it will try to stop gay weddings from happening. The territory’s parliament passed the law in a 9-8 vote, drawing a standing ovation from the 200-strong crowd in the parliament’s public gallery. Many sang John Paul Young’s 1970s pop hit Love is in the Air, in celebration. Gay couples are expected to rush to Canberra, the national capital and the territory’s only city, to tie the knot before the federal government can overturn the law, either through a court ruling or a federal parliamentary vote.
Election set for Nov. 9
Officials rescheduled the presidential election for Nov. 9 after police prevented the scheduled vote this past weekend due to a conflict with a Supreme Court ruling. While the new schedule may break through a political stalemate and reassure the troubled young democracy, it may not produce a new president before the incumbent’s term ends, creating a constitutional vacuum. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the Nov. 9 vote, a runoff would be held on Nov. 16, according to the schedule Vice Elections Commissioner Ahmed Fayaz announced to reporters on Monday. The constitution requires a president to be elected by Nov. 11, when President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s term ends. The Supreme Court had annulled results of a Sept. 7 election, finding that the voters’ registry had phony names and those of dead people. The revote had been set for Saturday, but police stopped it because the Elections Commission failed to obtain approval for the voting registry from all the candidates.
Fresco restoration cartoonlike
Authorities have “restored” ancient Buddhist frescoes in a temple by painting them over with cartoon-like figures from Taoist myths, reports said yesterday, prompting outrage online. It is the latest example of controversial heritage preservation in the country, where many ancient structures have been destroyed in recent decades, sometimes to be replaced by replicas of the original. The temple in Chaoyang, Liaoning Province, was built more than 270 years ago and the delicate original paintings had survived, albeit crumbling, until the “refurbishment.” The new paintings are bold, simplistic and of completely different subjects, pictures showed. Internet users lashed out at the works on the country’s Weibo microblogging sites, branding the new paintings “even worse than cartoons.”