Our door is always open, transport minister tells disgruntled cabbies

By Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told taxis operators he was prepared to meet them to discuss their grievances. — File picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Taxi operators unhappy with unequal regulations for them and ride-hailing firms are free to share their grouses with the Transport Ministry, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

The minister said he was prepared to meet them to explain conditions for e-hailing services, which taxi groups continue to insist were competing unfairly against them.

“If they want to meet me, they can do so any time,” he said.

“We have amended the Land Public Transport Commission(SPAD) Act, which would allow us to place the taxis and e-hailing services to function on the same platform, to adhere to the same rules,” he said.

Liow said the new law would do away with discrepancies on licensing and vehicle inspections, eventually standardising the requirements for all services.

While conceding that conditions for ride-hailing providers and taxis are not yet equal, citing as example the Puspakom checks that are still not necessary for the newer service, he said this will eventually be brought to parity.

“We will be doing away with these inconsistencies, and will be speak about it with both sides, the taxi drivers and e-hailing service providers,” he said.

Big Blue Taxi Facilities Sdn Bhd founder Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail previously warned that taxi drivers will vote for the opposition en masse if the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) does not address their complaints against firms such as Uber and Grab.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said earlier this week that such threats were uncalled for, and Liow expressed similar disapproval today.

“There is no need to threaten the government, such comments should not be made by a responsible person,” Liow said

“Whatever the issue, you can discuss it with the ministry. We are always open to views from the people, there is no need to threaten.”

Liow referred to those threats after handing over the Pride of Workmanship awards to 38 Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) staff, who were labelled “Rail Heroes” at KL Sentral this morning.

Recipients received a specially design award along with RM500 cash from Rotary Clubs Malaysia.

The awards were handed out to staff selected based on their work performance and ethics during last year.

Among the recipients were Electric Train Service (ETS) captains, cargo, commuter and intercity train drivers, signalling and communication staff, electricians, clerks, and station masters.

“One doesn’t have to look far to find employees who make a positive difference, with many routinely making contributions that demonstrate situational awareness of their environment and safety.

“They go the extra step and lend a hand when needed to ensure the efficiency of KTMB,” said Liow when complimenting the award winners.

The awards ceremony was one of four similar events which were held simultaneously at the Butterworth station in Penang, the Wakaf Baru station in Kota Baru, Kelantan, and the Kluang station in Johor.

A total of 66 recipients nationwide received the award.