Mahathir’s Bersatu ‘beacon of hope’ for cabbies

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KUALA LUMPUR: Cabbies disgruntled with the Government’s move to legalise Uber and Grab, are looking to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s new political party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as their “beacon of hope”.

Big Blue Taxi Services founder Shamsubahrin Ismail said the Cabinet’s decision to give the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) the go-ahead to regulate ride-sharing services was a “no go” for those in the taxi industry.

“We will fight (the approval) all the way. If Uber and Grab are approved by the end of this year, we will support Bersatu and its President Muhyiddin Yassin,” he told a press conference here today.

Shamsubahrin made a similar call last month, to which Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz responded with “never ever threaten the government” and it would be a “big mistake” for taxi drivers to do so.

Clearing the air, Shamsubahrin said his statement was not meant to be a threat and he was merely stating the reality of today’s voting trend.

“What I’m saying is, that during the last general election, Prime Minister Najib Razak said he will look at all possibilities to help raise our income and clean up the mess faced by the taxi industry now.

“So if he goes back on what he said, why must we support him and Barisan Nasional? We have to support a party that can support us and take care of our well-being.

“So I’m asking Nazri to stand up and tell SPAD to do their work because a troubled taxi industry will also affect the tourism industry,” Shamsubahrin said.

“If he (Nazri) fights along with us, the taxi drivers and I will support him 200%. We have to work together to protect both our industries.”

According to SPAD, there are currently around 77,000 registered taxi drivers nationwide.

The Cabinet’s approval will see SPAD commencing work on the necessary amendments to existing laws and possible enactment of new ones, for the relevant government agencies.

This would be done before the proposal to legalise Uber and Grab is presented at the next Parliament sitting in November.

An estimated 150,000 new individual taxi, Uber and Grab drivers are expected to be providing services to the public over the next three years with the new laws in place, according to the presentation from SPAD.

Meanwhile, when contacted, one of Bersatu’s founders, Kamarulazman Habibur Rahman, said he welcomed the support and unlike BN, the party would actually keep to the promises it makes.

“Our party is a new deal for everyone. We have identified problems that arose under the current administration.

“We (Bersatu) come from the masses, from all walks of life. We know their plight and we will look into all their problems,” he told FMT.