Malaysian cabbies plan week-long strike to protest Uber
Tue 16 Aug 2016
Malaysian cab drivers have warned that they will hold a week-long strike to protest the government’s plan to legalize ride-sharing companies such as Uber.
Last week, the government of Malaysia gave transportation regulators permission to revamp the country’s taxi industry and legalize ride-sharing operations. PERS1M, the Malaysian taxi driver association, advised that a six-day strike in protest of this decision would follow, although the date has yet to be determined.
Concerns from PERS1M include the not only the competition that would arise from legalizing ride sharing in Malaysia, but also claims of unfair competition. Uber and GrabCar are not currently held to the same regulatory standards and licensing requirements as traditional taxi providers. The Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that under the new plan, providers would see an increase in regulation for ride-sharing and a decrease in regulation for traditional taxi industry in order to level the playing field. PERS1M representatives appear unconvinced, as their plan for the week-long strike was announced after the Transport Minister’s statement.
Officials from the Land Public Transport Commission of Malaysia, commonly known as SPAD, have warned that participants in the strike will face strict penalties, including suspension of their driver’s license.
Head of corporate communications for SPAD, Radha Warrier, added, “Our advice is for them to reconsider such moves as they will result in traffic obstruction and inconvenience the public. Hence, (the Royal Malaysian Police) and SPAD will take necessary actions against drivers who obstruct traffic.”
She also urged PERS1M to be patient before organizing a protest, stating that the overall reconstruction of the country’s taxi industry includes plans to improve the income and welfare of traditional taxi drivers in addition to legalizing ride sharing. A press release detailing the plan is expected this week.
Kamaruddin Mohd Hussaid, president of the PERS1M taxi driver association, urged SPAD to show concern for the welfare of current taxi drivers and questioned the government’s motive in legalizing ride sharing, when the current system is sufficient to meet the transport needs of its citizens.
PERS1M filed a class-action lawsuit against Uber and GrabCar in December of last year, claiming that the ride-sharing services were stealing customers and looking to the high court of Malaysia to declare the companies illegal. Previous protests against Uber and GrabCar in March and April of this year caused massive gridlock, bringing traffic in Kuala Lumpur to a standstill as drivers abandoned their cars on the road. Kamaruddin and three other drivers were detained by police during the March protest.