Najib criticises Mahathir for ignoring e-hailing benefits

PETALING JAYA • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday 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 and now leader of opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan at a campaign event in Langkawi.

"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," Tun Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian last Saturday.

Some news reports indicate that at least 50,000 registered Grab drivers will be affected if Grab and similar ride-sharing applications are curbed in any way, reported the New Straits Times.

In a Facebook post yesterday, 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 (instance of) 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 (a cash handout scheme)," he said.

Mr Najib cited other efforts by the government to help taxi drivers - including initiatives like TR1MA, the taxi trade-in scheme, and a RM200 million (S$67 million) allocation via Bank Simpanan Nasional to allow cabbies to obtain loans to buy new vehicles.

He said that the government reviewed taxi fares in 2015 and, a year later, the Taxi Industry Transformation Programme was launched.

Dr Mahathir, in his response, said he did not say e-hailing services will be abolished.

In a Twitter posting yesterday, he said he had mentioned that the current legislation would be reviewed to ensure that the rights of both, e-hailing services and taxi drivers, are protected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2018, with the headline 'Najib criticises Mahathir for ignoring e-hailing benefits'. Print Edition | Subscribe