KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 ― Over 200 taxi drivers protested at Padang Merbok today to express their dissatisfaction at the government for allowing ride-sharing services Grabcar and Uber to continue operating.
Armed with horns and signs that read “Haramkan Grabcar, Haramkan Uber (Ban Grabcar, Ban Uber)” the protesters called on the prime minister to intervene as they were losing business on a daily basis.
PAS’s Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, who was also present, said that Putrajaya has a responsibility to respond “positively” to the grouses of the taxi drivers as they were Malaysian citizens with rights.
“This is a service for the public that will have an impact on the economy, the public, socially, so the government cannot wash their hands of this.
“Once a memorandum is given, the government has to respond,” he said.
The taxi drivers marched around the parking lot of Padang Merbok chanting “hidup, hidup, hidup taxi” while holding signs demanding the resignation of Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.
An hour into the rally, the protesters, whose numbers swelled to about 500, began marching towards Parliament in hopes of meeting Barisan Nasional MPs to hand over their memorandum, but were waylaid by police officers.
As they marched, the cabbies were seen heckling other taxis driving by and taunting them for not joining the rally.
Some even tried to flag down some taxi drivers to show them the placards.
After a 20-minute wait at the gates of Parliament, during which the group tried to inch closer despite warnings from the police, PKR MP Chua Tian Chang addressed the crowd and promised to bring their memorandum to the Dewan Rakyat.
“I will bring this memorandum, we will together with all opposition MPs, we will debate and we will speak on behalf of Malaysian taxi drivers.
“If they don’t want to listen, we will use other means to protest this. We warn the government, if they don’t want to listen they will be brought down by the public,” he said to cheers from the crowd.
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also addressed the crowd, expressing support for the protesters and vowing to look into ways to solve their problems.
Other opposition leaders in attendance today include Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen, Kuala Krai MP Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli, Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar and PKR vice-president Shamsul Iskandar.
Klang Valley Taxi Drivers Action Committee (JKBPTLK) president Zailani Isa Usuludin today’s gathering was because taxi drivers have grown tired of government agencies’ pointing fingers at one another without offering a solution.
“We have met with SPAD many times but their answer to us has always been that they don’t have the power to ban Grabcar and Uber. They say the power is with SKMM.
“We have also met with SKMM and unfortunately, they tell us the same thing, that they don’t have power and that the power is with SPAD,” Zailani said, referring to The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM).
Zailani said Putrajaya has a week to respond to their memorandum, which includes demands for ride-sharing services to be banned and regulations to prevent illegal cabbies, failing which, taxi drivers will take to the streets again.
Persatuan Transformasi Pemandu Teksi Malaysia (Persim) deputy chairman Kamarudin Mohd Hussain also said cabbies will gather again at major streets in the city centre if the government fails to act.
“After this, if we don’t get a response or attention from the government we will have another major rally at various KL streets, at maybe KLCC or Bukit Bintang,” he said.
“Most definitely,” he added when asked if the rally could result in road closures.
At 2.45pm, after waiting close to three hours to hand over the memorandum to any BN MP, Kamarudin, along with a remaining 20 taxi drivers left Padang Merbok, saying they were disappointed that not one member of the ruling party showed up.