Author/ Ah Yeah
The issue of legislation on minimum wage has drawn people's attention after a series of activities organized by the Civil Alliance for Minimum Wage. The alliance launched a 30-hours hunger strike in Causeway Bay last week. On Sunday, University Student's Grassroots Concern Group went to Sun Hung Kai Centre to protest against the contractor of cleaning services who exploited janitors. The alliance held a forum on Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok on Sunday afternoon (September 17). Speakers from different sectors discussed the problem of legislation on minimum wage.
(September 23, 2006) In solidarity with the Thai democracy lovers who braved the martial law yesterday, and held a protest action in Bangkok, activists and friends from different countries based in Chiang Mai held their own version of a protest action. Some 12 foreign activists and friends gathered, mostly wearing black, and wrote their condemnation of military rule and call for democr acy in sheets of paper and had their photos taken.
(28 September 2006)“We’re already challenging the system by being here tonight,” Professor Somchai Prichasilpakul of the Chiang Mai University Law School told some 100 university students last night who gathered outside the grounds of Faculty of Social Science to have a “social dialogue on the military coup”. He said this as some 10 police men came and other men in civilians with a video camera started taking shots of the circle of people sitting on the grass. The students and the professors seemed unperturbed by the men in uniforms. One of the professors even invited them to join the circle.
While there were two public actions staged in Bangkok in the last 9 days of Martial Law in Thailand, this was the first in Chiang Mai to defy the military order of non-assembly of more than 5 people for political discussion/action. Chiang Mai is the hometown of the ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the bailiwick of his Thai Rak Thai party. The dialogue was organised by the Chiang Mai Students for Democracy Network. While the Chiang Mai University students were double the number of those who attended the gathering at the Thammasat University last Monday, there was a difference in the atmosphere between the two meetings. Those who were in Thammasat University, the seat of student movement in the 70s, were mostly wearing black shirts – a symbol of their mourning for the death of democracy in Thailand; while the Chiang Mai students and professors were wearing different shades of gray, so to speak. It was clear that they were there as an act of defiance, a brave act indeed, given the increasing presence of the military day by day on the streets, in the markets; but there doesn’t seem to be a strong united position of condemnation of the military coup.
Associate Professor Tanan Anumanrajatan said that “Thaksin is out. A lot of us have worked hard together to oust him, and now we did.” (For a while it confused me if he is in the military, because he was saying “we” ousted Thaksin, but no, he is a civilian university professor.) Tanan’s main message throughout the dialogue is that the Thai people should be able to call for and assert their right to speak and to assemble. This, under martial law. Tanan spent some time reminding the students of Thaksin’s corruption, and his control of power when he was still the prime minister and his party Thai Rak Thai (Thai loves Thai) were ruling the government.
“Thaksin and his clique are gone – but what else is?” asked Professor Attachak Sattayanurak. “Nothing has changed but the people in power.” Attachak, a known progressive professor of History, close to the people’s movement in the North, said that the Thai people should have a clear vision of what kind of society they want. “Did we solve the problem of our society with the military coup? Or did it just deepen the crisis? Is our society better without a constitution?” Attachak said that now military men are seen at almost every junction in the city. “Is this to make us feel safer?” Attachak think otherwise.
One of the students expressed discomfort in seeing people having their photos taken with the soldiers, climbing up the tanks and posing. There was even a couple who had had their wedding picture taken in front of a tank with a soldier on top. Professor Somchai said that this is indeed dangerous – the acceptance of some people with such casualness of the symbolism of violence. “Tanks are for killing, not one person, but many, many people.” Somchai said that there should be more public discussion on what it means to have the military rule. People who have accepted the coup as it removed Thaksin from power should understand the implications. One of which is the fact that today there is no parliament, which is the democratic space for different voices to be heard. “The military coup is not a democratic alternative.”
Friday 7 p.m., September 15, 2007, about a dozen members of Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies (Taiwan Radical Quarterly) gathered in the drizzle at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and participated in a demonstration consisting of over a million people, seeking to depose Bien.
However, the place was over-crowded by the people in Red, with some people calling the scene a "Red Sea". We could barely enter Ketagalan Boulevard, therefore we walked against the tide and made a detour to Taipei Station from the Chungshan South Road near the National Taiwan University Hospital.
Later, we realized that such "free walking", without any leadership from "centre" in a traditional political / social movement, is the key point of the whole parade. We couldn't hear what was happening from the command platform. So instead of wasting our time, we arranged our own battle. People wandered around and shared their excitement with their friends and colleagues in Red along the way.
Translator notes: The Urban Renewal Authority in Hong Kong has announced its plan in redeveloping Kwun Tong old districts. The three building models show that the project is to transform the Kwun Tong downtown into a mega shopping and residential mall without pedestrian paths in open areas. As the residents there are among the poorest in Hong Kong, the renewal project will probably result in gentrification and further polarization of rich and poor in geographical term.
GP Batteries (GP Batteries International Limited), held by Gold Peak Industries (Holdings) Limited, took legal action against Hong Kong labour groups in order to stop them from exposing the heavy mental poisoning situation in their production line and fighting for workers' compensation.
On 28 June 2006, Gold Peak applied to the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to issue a summons against two labour NGOs (Globalization Monitor and the Neighbourhood & Worker’s Service Center) and the local trade union Confederation (The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions), which had been assisting the workers, for defamation.
On 21 September, more than a thousand five hundred workers from seven states in Malaysia held a three-hour demonstration at Parliament house. The kind of mobilization done by the Factory and Union Coalition of JERIT (Oppressed People’s Network) on a working day would put even political parties and the Trade Union Movement to shame.
While Taiwan and Thailand are undergoing political changes dramatically, everything seems to remain unchanged in Hong Kong. There is only one local news story attracts my attention: Some students of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) proposes to quit the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS). This does not look like a big deal. But the term "passive revolution" might be an appropriate idea to understand what's happening in Hong Kong.
HKFS has been the representative body for student unions at seven universities and colleges since the late 1950s. Over the past few decades, it had been very politicized. During 1980s-1990s, HKFS was active in democratic movement, particularly in the incidents of June Fourth and fighting for revision of the Basic Law. In recent years, it has become less active but is still seen as a part of the pan-democratic alliance.
If we do not look into the gross abuse of 'strike harsh' policy by the police force and rectify it within the justice system, there will be more unfortunate incidents of innocent people being wrongfully convicted of crimes that they did not commit.
By Zan Ai Zong
On September 9th, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 incident, a report in China Youth Daily exposed a horrific incident of police brutality: four students in Chaohu, Anhui Province were wrongfully (illegally) detained and tortured for a hundred days.
Today (Sept 22), the Korean police launched a national wide attack on 8 office branches of Korean Government Employee Union (KGEU), over 70 union activists were arrested, many wounded. The KGEU has 140 offices across the nation. Tonight, there is a peaceful candle gathering at Gwangwhamun in Seoul to protest against police violence. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) claimed that KGEU is an illegal union.
The KGEU president Mr. KWON Seung Bok started a hunger strike and sit-in protest in front of the central government building on September 12th.
"We have been carrying out just union activities but the government is forcibly closing offices just because we have not registered them," said Kwon to Korea Times on Sept 22. "We will continue to fight together other civil organizations and labor unions such as the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU)."