Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Singapore's bus strike. Unlike Singaporeans, Hong Kong people have balls

Ladies and Gentlemen,

"Hong Kong Activists Stage Protests, Call for Release of SMRT Bus Drivers" reports Singapore’s state controlled newspaper Straits Times of Dec 05, 2012.

About 50 Hong Kong citizens, outraged by Singapore Island one party totalitarian police states action to arrest and prosecute innocent Chinese bus drivers in Singapore for having gone on strike have protested in front of the Singapore Consulate in Hong Kong demanding that they be immediately released and the law requiring the giving of notice before striking be forthwith rescinded.

But in Singapore itself, up till now, there has not been a single public protest from anyone.


Which begs the question, what sort of people are Singaporeans anyway? Have they no guts at all to stand up to stand up to the injustice done to their striking bus drivers, and instead require having the people of Hong Kong to stand up for them? Have they no balls at all? Shame indeed!

About a week ago, about 200 bus drivers from China temporarily employed on contract in Singapore had staged a strike because they were being paid less than similarly placed Singapore or Malaysian nationals. The next day after threats of arrest and imprisonment and surrounded by an overwhelming armed police presence in riot gear, about a hundred of them gave in the next day leaving about 50 on the third day.

Of these, the next day, 26 were unceremoniously deported without any due process, 5 were arrested and charged with serious criminal offenses of which one was sentenced to 6 weeks jail while the other five are still in jail being tortured and continuously interrogated while denied legal representation.

The cause of these men was just. They were being unfairly treated while Singaporeans and Malaysians were given preferential treatment. Singapore’s argument for arresting them, which is totally without merit, is that they failed to give a 14 day notice because, according to them, transportation is an essential service.

Although there appears a great deal of hoo and ha in the Singaporean Internet, all anonymously I must add, from Singaporeans who claim to support these drivers, there appears no one, absolutely no one who dares to openly protest against this injustice.

All Singaporeans are capable of doing, it appears, is to proclaim their dissatisfaction on the Internet, and mind you even that anonymously.

It took the brave people of Hong Kong, in spite of being under the yoke of the Communist Chinese government, to do the right thing, by protesting in front of the Singapore consulate in solidarity with their fellow Singapore workers.  

The unfortunate consequence of such inaction by the people of Singapore sends an unfortunate message not only to their repressive government but also the world that Singaporeans actually condone such injustice being perpetrated against their workers. It also sends an unfortunate message to global employers that Singapore Island is the one place to come to exploit cheap compliant and submissive labor force.

The Singapore Democratic Party, one of Singapore’s opposition parties have numerous articles in their website, The Singapore Democrat, about a pattern of exploitation of the low income workers and the plight of the poor in the island. All very good, thanks very much, but surely merely writing about this stuff repeatedly is not enough. Surely they have to do something more than that, at least like what these people in Hong Kong have done, by getting off their backsides and publicly and openly proclaiming that this is wrong and will not be tolerated.

Alas, it appears, that the courage of Singaporeans and that of the so called opposition Singapore Democratic Party only extends to writing articles condemning the injustice but it appears they don't have what it takes to do anymore.

Alas, this is not good enough either for Singapore, for me or for anyone else who has any interest in the future of the island city state governed by the Lee Ruling Family as a totalitarian police state for the last 55 years.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 4375


Anonymous said...

Chinese workers stage new protest in Singapore
Agence France-Presse in Singapore

Two crane operators staged a high-rise protest at a construction site in Singapore on Thursday, its second industrial incident involving mainland Chinese workers in less than two weeks.

The workers, reportedly demanding payment of back wages before their return to China, perched themselves on top of separate cranes before agreeing to come down after hours of negotiations with rescuers, an AFP photographer said.

The crane protest came 10 days after a work stoppage by Chinese bus drivers erupted at a transport firm – Singapore’s first industrial strike since 1986.

The protest came as four drivers accused of instigating the November 26-27 strike at state-linked transport firm SMRT appeared in court.

Liu Xiangying, 33, Gao Yue Qiang, 32, Wang Xianjie, 39, and He Jun Ling, 32 appeared in handcuffs and told the court they would engage defence counsel.

Twenty-nine other drivers have already been fired and sent back to China and one has been sentenced to six weeks in jail after pleading guilty to involvement in an illegal strike.

Activist groups have expressed outrage over the crackdown on the bus workers.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement on Thursday calling on Singapore to drop the charges against the four drivers and put an end to pay discrimination.

The striking drivers complained they were being paid less than Malaysian colleagues for the same work.

“Singapore defies basic labour rights by criminalising migrant workers for a work stoppage and threatening them with prison terms, fines, and deportation,” said Phil Robertson, HRW deputy Asia director.

“As a country that depends on migrant workers, Singapore should recognise it’s playing with fire by permitting private and state-owned companies to discriminate based on the nationality of the workers,” he added.

Involvement in an illegal strike in Singapore is punishable by a maximum one-year jail term and S$2,000 (US$1,640) fine, or both.

Last week’s bus strike highlighted the country’s heavy dependence on migrant labour to drive its economic growth amid a labour shortage resulting from falling birth rates.

Anonymous said...

It's true we aint got the balls. On the other hand, I cant be bothered with sinkapore's future. I'm going to leave that Godforsaken island as soon as the next available chance present itself. Call me a coward, sinkapore has gone to the dogs, not worth sharing my expertise with the workforce. ya, lick my ass, pigs.

Anonymous said...

indeed, there was another strike today, but as always the heroes are the mainland migrant workers

Anonymous said...

CPF money being used to bail out another bad investment by Temasek.

"Although the Singapore government is coming to the rescue of the embattled commodities trader Olam Commodities by underwriting a US$750 million bond issue, if this were happening anywhere but in tightly controlled Singapore, the media would likely be up in arms. "

They would be arguing that Temasek, the government’s investment arm, is throwing good public money after bad to save the faces of the Temasek managers who committed so publicly to the Singapore-based Olam in the first place, buying 16 percent of the commodities trader in 2009.

Anonymous said...

Left Singapore. Sold my HDB flat and and took my CPF with me.

LKY and Son cannot get their filthy hands on my CPF.

My sons do not have to serve NS to support the Lee Dynasty.

Best decision that I made.

Anonymous said...

Good interview.