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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid