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June 1, 2011

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Ex-convict nominated for model worker title

ONCE a murderer and now a candidate for city-level model worker, 52-year-old cleaner Shao Wanli keeps repeating the one "truth" he has learned in his melodramatic life.

"Life is a mirror. What you do to it or to other people will eventually reflect back on you."

About 20 years ago, the tall, thin man fatally stabbed his girlfriend and was given the death sentence. But thanks to good behavior while awaiting the death rap, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. And he was finally released in 2007.

And now the privately owned cleaning company where he works is making him one of the candidates for the city-level honor of "model worker" for his outstanding efforts - like jumping into a manure pit to fix a clogged pipeline or rushing into a burning workshop to rescue fellow workers.

Back in 1991, when he was in his 30s and working in a local timber yard, Shao met a divorced single mother at the workshop, with whom he fell madly in love.

"Everyone around me, colleagues, relatives and friends, all were against the relationship, but love had made me blind," Shao recalled.

Love also made him deaf, literally, as he took to alcohol after discovering that the woman was still dating her former husband. The sorrow in his heart and the strong Chinese wine "burned" his ears deaf. The affair ended in tragedy as Shao put a knife right through his girlfriend's heart and then stabbed himself in the chest in an attempt at suicide. But life gave him a second chance, which Shao's mentor Zhao Guoping insists, is well deserved.

Zhao, whose job is to help former jailbirds assimilate into society, said Shao was hired by the cleaning company in 2009.

"The company boss has seen all of his hard work and decided to make him a candidate for model worker," said Zhao. "But we know it will be extremely hard for him to qualify as one."

Although city regulations don't prohibit workers with a criminal record from being honored as a model worker, it is difficult for the ex-convicts to overcome discrimination.

Some residents have doubts about Shao's model credentials, believing it was some kind of promotional gimmick by the company which wanted to boost its business.

Shao, himself, doesn't care about the honor, however.


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