PM ‘looks down on taxi drivers’ as among poor

Shamsubahrin Ismail

KUALA LUMPUR: A taxi company boss has criticised the prime minister for lumping all taxi drivers with the poor in the Budget speech yesterday.

Big Blue Taxi Services founder Shamsubahrin Ismail said today that the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and the Land Transport Commission, SPAD, should know the difference between taxi drivers and poor people becoming taxi drivers.

“Taxi drivers consist of former bank managers, those with diplomas so on and so forth. Now you want the poor to be Uber drivers. Under the PM, all drivers including taxi drivers are considered poor,” he said at a press conference today.

Yesterday, Najib had encouraged the B40 group, those in the bottom 40 percent of society, to become Uber drivers providing rides in order to earn extra income.

Shamsubahrin said Najib’s speech had lowered the standing of taxi drivers by labelling them as being among the “poor”.

“I am not undermining the poor being taxi drivers; we train them to be professional taxi drivers. We did not do that just for the government to approve of Uber.

Taxi drivers and taxi companies have protested against the government’s proposal to regulate Uber and GrabCar ride-hailing services, in which private citizens offer rides using their own vehicles.

Yesterday, the Association for the Transformation of Malaysian Taxi Drivers (Persim) also criticised the Budget speech, saying that taxi drivers could no longer rely on the government.

Persim deputy chairman Kamarudin Mohd Hussain said that the incentives given to taxi drivers in the Budget was “not good enough”.

“Taxi drivers can no longer rely on the government, instead we must look for other alternatives. How many protests have we done? Apparently it’s not enough for the government to ban Uber.

“We have to accept the government’s decision and accept that the approval of Uber as a challenge for us taxi drivers to improve our service,” Kamarudin told FMT.