May Day is not a holiday in Indonesia. Even if May 1 fell this year on a Saturday it is still a normal working day for most workers on the archipelago. Workers have to take a day off or go on strike to be present. Despite this and other obstacles thousands of workers hit the streets in the main industrial centres like Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya on the island Java, Medan in Sumatra, Palu in Sulawesi and smaller places like Riau and Batam.
A one-kilometer long march of workers celebrated May Day in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. A moderate estimate puts the number of participants on the rally at 60 to 80.000 workers. No doubt this was the biggest workers march on May Day for decades. More important was the fact that this time the May Day rally was organized without the support of the government. It was also probably one of the most combative ones. The driving force behind this massive gathering is the two-month old struggle against the privatization of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). The bulk of the demonstrators came from this protest movement.