News / Asia

China 'Concerned' by Singapore's Arrest of Chinese Bus Drivers

A police van leaves the premises of a dormitory as negotiations with striking bus drivers continue within the building in Singapore, November 26, 2012.
A police van leaves the premises of a dormitory as negotiations with striking bus drivers continue within the building in Singapore, November 26, 2012.
China has expressed "great concern" about Singapore's arrest of four Chinese bus drivers accused of involvement in a rare strike in the Southeast Asian nation earlier this week.

Singapore police arrested the four Chinese immigrant workers on Wednesday and Thursday and charged them with inciting an illegal strike, an offense punishable by up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,600. One of the men faces an additional charge of posting Internet messages that encouraged his co-workers to strike.

Chinese Migrants in Singapore

  • Singapore is home to 200,000 Chinese migrants
  • Most work in construction, manufacturing, maritime and service industries
  • They apply for work permits through agents who charge substantial commission fees
  • Many work long hours without overtime pay, some accuse employers of exploitation
  • Singapore labor laws offer protection to both migrant and local workers
The four were among 171 Chinese bus drivers who went on strike on Monday to protest being paid less than their Malaysian counterparts who work for the same Singaporean state-run transport company, SMRT Corporation. The strike was over by Wednesday, when most of the workers, who are not unionized, reported back for duty.

The Chinese Embassy in Singapore released a statement on Thursday, expressing concern about the arrests and saying it was trying to arrange consular access to the four detained drivers as soon as possible. It called for the "legitimate rights and interests" of the Chinese workers to be protected. Singaporean authorities promised to examine the drivers' grievances.

When the strike began, the Chinese Embassy also urged the bus drivers to abide by Singaporean laws and avoid affecting public travel. Local laws prohibit workers in essential services such as transportation from going on strike without giving at least 14 days' notice.

Singapore has long used such laws to keep a lid on labor unrest and political dissent. Its last strike was organized by shipyard workers in 1986.

The government of the wealthy city-state also has had to rely on hundreds of thousands of migrants from less-developed Asian nations to ease a chronic shortage of labor for low-skilled jobs deemed undesirable by Singaporeans.

Foreign workers make up about one-third of Singapore's population of 5.1 million. Many migrants also work in mid- or high-level positions in the international financial center and port, drawing complaints from locals who have to compete with foreigners for jobs.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More