Problem is, since the strike was recognised only on Tuesday, Monday's activity being vicariously labelled as sit-down, refusal to show up for work and other euphemisms, the charge is wrongly framed. One of the Fantastic Four faces another charge of inciting workers to strike in relation to a statement posted on Chinese website Baidu. The words "instigating" and "inciting" are probably plucked from the same dictionary which, at least on Monday, did not list "strike". It is very possible that the freedom of expression was misconstrued by the authorities, thanks to their corrupted lexicon. J B Jeyaratnam once waved a copy of a police report at a election rally, and he was promptly sued for libel.
Read the "incriminating" extract and try to find the "instigating" and "inciting" elements:
"But why don't we think of it the other way round, if a few hundred Chinese nationals take the lead, I am afraid the management of SMRT will fired instead. Not that we do not know the traffic situation in Singapore, a few hundred bus drivers do not report for work for a few days, there will be public outcry in Singapore. Lianhe Zaoba, My Paper and the English papers will all wait on us, trying to find out the reasons for the action. Land Transport Authority will have to start questioning the SMRT."
If the well meaning ("They were just asking for better pay and living conditions", an anonymous source who braved the SMRT forbidding the Chinese drivers from talking to the media) were intent on inciting anything, it was to nudge the mainstream media and LTA to do their bloody job in the first place. The last public outcry about the mismanagement at SMRT was initiated by a train stuck in a dark tunnel. Which is a preferable incubator of public outcry, a sit-down at a dormitory, or commuters seated in an airless, unlitted train coach?
Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor enthusiastically "welcomed the swift action of the police" but downplayed the lethargy of the SMRT management, best exemplified by the newly appointed CEO who is still conveniently out of town, mobile phone presumably switched off. The caped
China, who has been observing Singapore's model of governance, was quick to learn from the use of force. Taking a cue from Amy Khor's praise of swift police action, it is empowering its border police to take tougher action against foreign ships entering contested waters in the South China Sea, specifically "to board, seize and expel foreign ships illegally entering the province's sea areas." It remains to be seen if the boys in blue will next board the dormitories, seize and expel the foreigners. More likely they will park their shiny new red vans nearby and await political motivation.