Four SMRT bus drivers from China charged with inciting illegal strike

Four SMRT bus drivers from China have just been charged in court for their role in the illegal strike at a worker's dormitory in Woodlands earlier this week.

He Jun Ling, 32, Gao Yue Qiang, 32, Liu Xiangying, 33, and Wang Xian Jie, 39, were arrested by the police between Wednesday and today.

They now face charges under Section 10(a) of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (Chapter 67), read with section 109 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224).

If found guilty, they can be fined up to $2,000 or jailed up to 12 months or both.

He Jun Ling is believed to be the leader. The Henan province native had identified himself as a spokesman for the drivers and spoken to reporters on Tuesday at the Woodlands dormitory, and was featured in a Straits Times report.

Court documents show that he had allegedly incited his Chinese colleagues by posting on a message on Sunday titled "The insults and humiliation suffered by Singapore drivers".

In the post, he called on drivers to "go on MC" on Monday and Tuesday, and that they had to "depend on ourselves for our dignity and interest".

He told them to relay the message to as many drivers as possible. "Boycott and despise those who are not taking any action..." he wrote.

The court ordered the four to be remanded for further investigations.

The drivers are believed to be among those who did not report for work on both Monday and Tuesday, citing unhappiness with their salaries and living conditions.

They are also among the 20 called up for questioning by the police on Wednesday.

SMRT said 171 drivers did not report for work on Monday. On Tuesday, 88 were absent.

The Chinese embassy here said in a statement that it is concerned about the arrests. The consulate has expressed this to the Singapore authorities and has asked that arrangements be made for embassy officers to visit the four. It also hopes that the legal rights of those arrested will be protected, that the matter be resolved in an appropriate manner, and that all parties remain calm.

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