PETALING JAYA - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday (April 30) criticised opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad, saying he is disregarding the benefits of e-hailing services for the people.
Datuk Seri Najib was referring to remarks made by the former premier at a campaign event in Langkawi.
Tun Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian on Saturday: "The Grab problem is not just in Langkawi but all over Malaysia. Grab is detrimental to normal taxi drivers. This matter will be studied so that the taxi service will be fair to all, this will be done when we take over the government later."
Some news reports indicate that at least 50,000 registered Grab drivers would be affected if Grab and similar ride-sharing applications are curbed in any way, reported New Straits Times.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Najib said: "In his attempt to gain support from taxi drivers, Mahathir has pledged to review e-hailing services such as Grab if Harapan wins the General Election, completely disregarding the benefits of e-hailing for the people. This is yet another evidence of how this nonagenarian refuses to adapt to the times or understand how technological advances benefit Malaysians."
According to Mr Najib, the right approach to e-hailing services is to incorporate their benefits for the people, while helping taxi drivers embrace new technologies and buy new vehicles, reported The Star.
"Since 2012, the government has given substantial assistance to taxi drivers nationwide, the most recent being the 1Malaysia Taxi Assistance Card and automatic approval for BR1M (1Malaysia People's Aid)," he said.
Mr Najib cited other efforts by the government to help taxi drivers - including initiatives such as TR1MA, the taxi trade-in scheme, personal insurance as well as a RM200 million allocation via Bank Simpanan Nasional to allow taxi drivers to obtain loans to buy new vehicles.
He said the government reviewed taxi fares in 2015, and a year later, the Taxi Industry Transformation Programme was launched.
"In the Budget 2018 tabling, I announced that a RM5,000 (S$1,687) grant for the purchase of new vehicles will be given to drivers who wish to convert to the e-hailing service," said Mr Najib, adding that all e-hailing and hire-car drivers are required to adhere to the same terms, conditions and regulations as taxi drivers, to create fair and healthy competition.
He said: "For those of you who are voting for the first time, you probably did not experience the years of Mahathir. This is typical Mahathirism for you - it's either his way or the highway. With tolls.
"Just look at what he did to Proton. The national carmaker could have been a top multinational carmaker that is profitable and one that Malaysians can be proud of."
Instead, Mr Najib added, it constantly needed government assistance and taxpayers' money to compete.
"Do we want to go back to the old days, or do we want to move forward, as a nation, to greater heights?" he asked.