Uber, GrabCar face cabby protest in KL

Taxi drivers demand ban on ride-sharing, irked that no govt action has been taken yet

Hundreds of Malaysian taxi drivers marched peacefully to the Parliament building yesterday to demand the government ban ride-sharing services such as Uber and GrabCar, following months of hostility between licensed taxi drivers and unlicensed drivers.

Taxi drivers say ride-sharing services undercut their prices and eat into their livelihoods.

Despite having gone through several rounds of discussions with the regulatory body, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), taxi drivers are irked that no action has been taken against Uber and GrabCar yet.

Persatuan Transformasi Pemandu Teksi Malaysia (PERS1M) deputy chairman Kamarudin Mohd Hussain, who led about 500 taxi drivers in the two-hour protest, said the government had failed to address their concerns. PERS1M is a taxi drivers' association based in Klang Valley.

"This gathering is not to oppose the government and it is not about politics. We are showing our dissatisfaction towards SPAD, which has not taken action against Uber and GrabCar," Mr Kamarudin told reporters at the protest, flanked by a huge banner calling for the resignation of SPAD chairman Syed Hamid Albar.

The group also called on Prime Minister Najib Razak to keep to his promise of giving taxi permits to individuals, instead of awarding them to big companies.

Opposition members of Parliament, including Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and vice-president Chua Tian Chang, accepted the taxi drivers' memorandum and promised to bring the issue up in Parliament.

Police officers at the scene controlled the flow of protesters, which resulted in a bit of slow-moving traffic for about half an hour, before the group dispersed without any untoward incidents at 12.15pm.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told The Straits Times that instead of protesting in the streets, it was far more beneficial for taxi drivers to engage SPAD in talks.

He said the ministry had urged SPAD to consult all taxi industry stakeholders to create a level playing field, and also look into regulations for Uber and GrabCar.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2015, with the headline 'Uber, GrabCar face cabby protest in KL'. Print Edition | Subscribe