4 charged over illegal strike out on bail

SINGAPORE - Four SMRT bus drivers from China who have been charged over their roles in an illegal strike were released on bail yesterday.

By about 5.30pm, all four men, dressed in casual attire, had left the Subordinate Courts in separate taxis.

Gao Yueqiang, 32; Liu Xiang- ying, 33; and Wang Xianjie, 39, were each granted bail of $10,000.

They each face one charge of inciting others to take part in the illegal strike last week, as well as abetting the offence.

Thirty-two-year-old He Junling - who faces an additional charge of inciting the strike via an online post made on Chinese website tieba.baidu.com - was released on $20,000 bail.

While it was not clear how their bail amounts were raised, lawyer M. Ravi and Singapore Democratic Party's Vincent Wijeysingha both appeared in court, and were seen to be assisting in the bail process.

My Paper understands that individuals from a non-governmental group which helps migrant workers in Singapore were also present to help.

Under the conditions for bail, the four accused had to raise the bail amounts and have their passports impounded.

During the hearing, they initially told the court through an interpreter that they were unable to raise the amounts.

The four added that they intended to engage lawyers to represent them.

No pleas were taken.

The men had been in remand since they were charged last Thursday.

On Monday, SMRT bus driver Bao Fengshan, 38, was sentenced to six weeks' jail for his involvement in the illegal strike.

Together with the four accused, Bao was among 171 bus drivers from China who staged a sit-in at their Woodlands dormitory last Monday.

The following day, 88 SMRT bus drivers did not show up for work.

The Chinese bus drivers were unhappy about receiving lower wages compared to their Malaysian counterparts, as well as over the poor living conditions in their dormitories.

A total of 29 SMRT bus drivers from China who were involved in the illegal strike were repatriated on Sunday.

The four accused men are due back in court on Wednesday.

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