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Security Tight as Tens of Thousands Protest Across Asia on Labor Day

Police were out in full force as tens of thousands of workers took to the streets across Asia on Labor Day to call for better working conditions, improved job benefits, and higher pay.

As police helicopters hovered overhead, around 10,000 workers shouting "long live labor" protested peacefully in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, Monday, to mark international Labor Day.

Thousands more held demonstrations in other Indonesian cities to protest against planned revisions to the labor law, which unions say would reverse workers' rights.

One protester, Raga, says the rights of workers are shrinking in Indonesia as economic conditions worsen for the poor.

"All the employees of Indonesia are getting worse. Because the rules only make the rich getting richer and the poor getting worse," Raga said.

In the Philippine capital of Manila, riot police and military forces were on standby because of reports that political opponents of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo might use May Day (May 1) labor demonstrations to destabilize her government.

Thousands of Filipinos in major cities across the archipelago used the day to demand Mrs. Arroyo's resignation over allegations she cheated in the 2004 elections.

In Cambodia, police briefly detained Chea Mony, leader of the country's largest labor union. The Police said workers were allowed to gather at union offices to mark Labor Day but could not march in the streets.

Still, more than 1,000 workers defied the ban and marched into the nation's capital of Phnom Penh.

In the Thai capital of Bangkok, workers marched to government headquarters demanding a 25 percent increase in the minimum wage.

And even the youngest of workers did not miss out on the Labor Day celebrations.

In the Jakarta demonstrations, 12-year-old Yusuf heads a delegation of around 10 street children, many who eke out an existence on the streets of the capital by singing or selling snacks.

He says the children want their voices to be heard because they are here to support the rights of street children and the rights of poor children everywhere.

And in Malaysia around 2,000 people marched in the capital of Kuala Lumpur, demanding a corruption-free civil service and the protection of migrant workers.