Taxi drivers from the Malaysian Taxi Drivers’ Transformation Association (PERS1M) were gathered in front of MyTeksi headquarters in Petaling Jaya this morning to protest against transportation apps such as GrabCar (an online service offered by MyTeksi in Malaysia) and Uber. According to the taxi drivers, these services are “taking away their livelihoods by undercutting their meter rates through underhanded means”.
Kamarudin Mohn Hussain, the deputy chairman of PERS1M, voiced his concerns towards this situation.
“We express regret and disappointment towards the lack of concern on behalf of the SPAD in protecting our industry and safeguarding our economy… Regarding the issue of GrabCar, Uber and other such services, it has always told us that [the matter] was beyond its control. It cannot do anything to protect taxi drivers.”
He further mentioned that if SPAD or relevant authorities fail to address the issue, they will organise a larger demonstration which will involve blocking major roads around the city, such as the areas around the Bukit Bintang, Dataran Merdeka, KL Sentral and Jalan Sultan Ismail.
According to Kamarudin, they are actually fine with GrabCar operating; however, the service must be operated by qualified taxi drivers only, which does not include personal vehicles or those that are not permitted.
“That’s what we are not okay with. They are taking away our income, that’s the problem.”
Furthermore, the secretary of the Subang Jaya Taxi Drivers’ Association (PPTSJ), Mathavan Subramaniam mentioned that taxi drivers are subjected to many rules and regulations, but when it comes GrabCar drivers they can get away with regular non-marked vehicles. He said:
“Every taxi driver has to undergo a health examination before being eligible for a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence that is required to drive a taxi, GrabCar is not subjected to such a ruling; in addition, its vehicles are not inspected by Puspakom. This is a violation of SPAD rules, yet GrabCar is still in operation.”
Last year, Uber was caught in a show down with JPJ. Read more here.
One taxi driver who came for the protest and would only be known as David, agreed with Mathavan’s statements.
“Every day, we have to pay RM58 [the taxi rental rate]. There are no off days. But if you drive a GrabCar or Uber vehicle, you can relax your mind. You don’t have to pay tax, you don’t have to pay for the meter, you don’t have to go for inspection, you don’t need a PSV licence.”
“We pass everything. The police catch us, everything is gone. But when you drive a GrabCar vehicle, [the authorities] don’t know if it’s a [PSV].”
Here is a video of the protest:
Paul Tan reported that Uber is in discussions with local transport regulators to legalise its operations, although the progress of these deliberations is unclear. The full statement by Kamarudin has been included below.
Statement by PERS1M in full
We at PERS1M will always provide our full support to any party that defends the welfare and rights of taxi drivers.
We express regret and disappointment towards the lack of concern on behalf of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) in protecting our industry and safeguarding our economy. This is despite the government ordering SPAD to immediately form the necessary steps to ensure our economy during the Janji Ditepati handover of 1,000 individual taxi licences, launched by the prime minister.
Until today, we have found the SPAD has been irresponsible and has FAILED to perform the task that has been handed to them by the government. As such, we plead to the leadership of prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to reshuffle all SPAD officers, as they are ill-informed and inexperienced with regards to the taxi industry, and in fact their arrogant attitude that they have shown is destroying our industry still further.
With the problems we are currently facing, we hope the government will not blame us when we no longer provide support to the government, as our welfare and economy have been severely affected.
We do not wish to go against the government, we respect the government very much. In fact, we are ready to heed the call of the government to upgrade the quality of taxi services in Malaysia. But how are we able to do this if our welfare and economy are not protected?
MESSAGE TO TAXI DRIVERS
I plead to the entire community of taxi drivers to unite our industry that is deteriorating from the apathetic attitude towards the problems of the industry.
We should unite and fight to keep our profession going. Our industry is like our country. Are we going to just do nothing and watch our country be destroyed? Let’s unite.
I imagine that we can hold several large-scale demonstrations in a number of locations around the city in the same day. It’s not impossible that with our might and the awareness that we have bestowed amongst ourselves, we will be able to retrieve the promises that have been given by the government to us. We do not want to go against the government; we only want our rights to be returned to us.
MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY AND DRIVERS WHO ARE INVOLVED
Please use services that are legal and do not put yourself or your family in danger as the risk of crime is very high.
To those who wish to be or are already involved in such illegal services, please stop your actions, as the risk of being taken action under the law is very high.
Malaysian Taxi Drivers’ Transformation Association
Kamarudin bin Mohd Hussain
Deputy Chairman, PERS1M
Vulcan Post couldn’t get in touch with MyTeksi while producing this article, but we have made contact with Uber and they will get in touch with us with a statement (if any).
We’ve contacted Uber for a statement on the protest and this is what they have to say:
“More choice in a city’s transportation ecosystem is better for everyone, including riders and drivers. In fact, in cities around the world including Kuala Lumpur, former taxi drivers are choosing the Uber platform for greater economic opportunity and flexibility. We welcome existing taxi drivers to become partners and driver on the Uber platform and take advantage of the benefits that driving on the Uber platform provides. Uber’s technology offers consumers more choices, allows drivers to make more money, and reduces congestion by encouraging people to leave their cars at home.”
– Karun Arya, Uber spokesperson
MyTeksi has responded and released this statement:
“MyTeksi was founded in Malaysia with the social mission to create a safer and more efficient taxi industry. We do this by creating safe and secure commuting experiences for passengers and improving livelihoods for drivers.
Driver engagement remains as one of our top priorities for MyTeksi. We run various driver-related initiatives because their welfare is our concern. We recently launched the all-new Elite Driver programme whereby MyTeksi invested RM4.5 million into a driver welfare fund. Participants of the programme enjoy up to RM10,000 worth of benefits each including insurance coverage, financial incentives as well as crisis support.
MyTeksi’s initiatives also extend to our drivers’ families. Last year, the Rides To Books campaign saw MyTeksi donating RM25,000 worth of Popular book vouchers to 500 of our top drivers. Other smaller initatives include language classes and free health checks.
Most importantly, feedback from drivers have been positive with many attest that their incomes have increased by up to 300 per cent since joining MyTeksi. Our latest in-house study involving 619 drivers regionally to measure the impact of MyTeksi on the incomes and quality of life of taxi drivers who use the MyTeksi app showed that
- 78% said it increases number of bookings.
- 68% said it increases safety
- 64% said it improves their job security
MyTeksi will continue to implement driver-friendly initiatives and engage our drivers in an open and friendly manner.
GrabCar is a car with driver service that shares the same platform as the MyTeksi app. GrabCar complements MyTeksi current service. We look forward to continuing productive conversations and working together with the authorities.”