Singapore politician starts May Day protest walk

29 Apr 07

A Singapore opposition politician on Sunday started his walk across the city-state as part of his party’s activities to highlight the plight of Singaporean workers on May Day.

Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and his sister, Chee Siok Chin, began their walk under the rain at a park bordering the financial district just after 6:00 am (2200 GMT).

“It’s very alarming that our workers can be paid the amount that they are paid and ministers continue to lavish themselves with such salaries,” Chee told AFP before he began his walk.

“Workers here are still very much exploited,” he added.

Wearing a T-shirt with the words “Walking For Our Workers” on the back, Chee said he did not expect authorities to stop them, as the walk involved less than five people.

Public protests of five or more people in Singapore require a police permit.

The pair expect to complete the 150-kilometre (93-mile) journey by Tuesday, which is international labour day, or May Day, Chee said.

The city-state faces a widening income gap and pay hikes for ministers and top civil servants, which take effect this month, triggered a rare public outcry from normally reserved Singaporeans.

The pay increase boosted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s annual salary to 2.04 million dollars, five times more than the figure US President George W. Bush earns and more than eight times the salary of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Chee is one of a few in Singapore to have spoken out against the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled since 1959.

He was declared bankrupt early last year after being unable to pay libel damages won by Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew and another former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.


29 Apr 07 (Sun), 1:00pm

Under the light rain, Ms Chee Siok Chin and Dr Chee Soon Juan started their May Day walk from Speakers’ Corner at 6:40 am. So far, they have walked for 6.5 hours and covered about 289 Kilometers.

The rain had stopped and the sun is out. They took a short meal & toilet break.

Presently, they are at the Jurong Town Hall Road, walking towards Bukit Batok and Bukit Gombak and Chua Chu Kang. Then, they will continue to head north to Woodland.

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