S'poreans protest recent labour action by Chinese workers

Four Singaporeans on Friday visited the Chinese embassy to complain of the recent spate of labour protests staged by workers from China in Singapore.

The four, who say they have no political affiliation, came together on Thursday, the same day as two construction workers from China mounted a crane in Jurong Port to demand unpaid back wages and a week after more than 180 SMRT bus drivers from China held a short-lived strike that government officials have declared as “illegal”.

Entering the Chinese embassy on Tanglin Road, businessmen Bashir Alazhamatkan and Nazem Suki, marine surveyor Muhammad Nazlee and a retiree who wanted to be known only as Joe brought with them a single-page letter addressed to Chinese president Hu Jintao asking his government to "intervene by taking action" against its citizens working in Singapore who partake in "unlawful and uncivilised action".

Citing the strike by Chinese bus drivers and a trade union protest at Singapore’s embassy in Hong Kong to demand the release of five drivers detained, they said they represented Singaporeans as a whole in their opposition to the recent labour actions.

"We, the citizen(s) of Singapore, will not tolerate any government and/or their citizen who refuse(s) to respect the constitution and the law of this Republic state of Singapore," they wrote. "We shall defend this 'little red dot' state to our last blood."

Signed simply as "Citizen of Singapore", the letter was written by former opposition party cadre Mohd Nazem Suki. The former secretary-general of the Singapore Malay National Organisation (PKMS) said 4,000 others had signed his letter either verbally or by email in the hours following the electronic distribution of his petition. These signatures had not been appended to the hard copy of the letter, however.

Explaining why they felt so strongly about this, Nazem said they wanted to "send a stern notice" to the Chinese government that citizens here do not tolerate what has happened.

"We are a very civilised country," he said. "We want to send a notice, a stern one, by the citizens of Singapore stating that if the country, their mainland, wants to defend their citizens in Singapore for their infringements in Singapore, this is not right."

Adding their concern that these protests and strikes could lead to a chain reaction of other uprisings by foreign workers based here, Bashir said they were also calling for mutual respect and understanding between people of both countries.

"We were hoping that the government from China will actually control the protesters, to tell them to respect Singapore and their leaders and the government of Singapore -- our law -- not to insult or stage protests like this," he said.

The four emerged from the embassy failing to seek an audience with any of the Chinese consulate officials.

Also having been unable to submit the letter formally to them, Nazem said they will consider their next course of action later Friday afternoon.

“We are quite disappointed with the reaction to our concerns but we will follow their protocol,” he said, speaking to reporters after exiting the embassy on Friday.

"The government should take stern action, just don't bother about what the world says," he added earlier. "It's our law, it's our sovereignty at stake."

Related stories:
2 China workers protesting on crane arrested
Activists slam crackdown on China strikers
SMRT bus drivers' strike: A sign of things to come?
SMRT bus drivers' strike illegal: Tan Chuan Jin

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 26 minutes ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 3 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Audi TT Offroad concept debuts as a 124-mpg hybrid with wireless charging 4 hours ago
    Audi TT Offroad concept debuts as a 124-mpg hybrid with wireless charging

    The TT. Audi's diminutive sports car. Since production began in 1998, the two-door coupe has aged with the pugnacity of a grizzled New Yorker, but not in size. And why would it, as the arrival of the TT RS proved, adding some grit makes for a rather captivating dish. And so you'll excuse us for being puzzled by the Audi TT Offroad concept.

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania
    McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania

    It may not be safe to enter a McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore on Mondays starting 28 April. To celebrate the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, the fast food chain announced last Friday that it would be releasing a new collection of Hello Kitty toys in McDonald’s restaurants island wide next Monday.

  • First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy
    First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy

    He called the emergency 119 number which put him through to the fire service, which in turn forwarded him to the coastguard two minutes later. That was followed by about 20 other calls from children on board the ship to the emergency number, a fire service officer told Reuters.