Big Blue Taxi: Why use Grab for games when there are cabs?

SamsubaharinKUALA LUMPUR: One of the biggest taxi operators in the country has questioned the government’s decision to allow e-hailing service Grab to be named the official transport provider of the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Kuala Lumpur later this year.

Big Blue Taxi adviser Shamsubahrin Ismail said there were 70,000 taxis in the Klang Valley which could provide enough manpower to ferry passengers and officials during the event from Aug 19 to 30.

“Our taxi drivers will give the best service,” he said at a press conference at his office in Ampang here today.

“I acknowledge that due to the stupidity of some taxi drivers, there is now Grab and Uber. But I would like to meet Khairy and explain to him our services,” he said, referring to Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

“I guarantee that if any of the taxi drivers who have registered with us are involved in any criminal activities, we will make sure their licences are revoked and (they are) put behind bars,” he said.

Shamsubahrin however took issue with Khairy for seeming to approve Grab’s services as the official ride-hailing partner for the games as announced on its website.

Shamsubahrin, who has been a fierce critic of Grab and Uber, another ride-sharing platform, claimed that both services were illegal as they had yet to receive the nod from Parliament.

He also said Khairy should have been aware of this.

“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should probe Khairy for approving an illegal service,” he said.

He also accused Khairy of killing the local taxi industry, echoing the grievance that detractors of Grab and Uber have constantly made.

He referred to an incident where a pregnant passenger was mugged by her Uber driver and his accomplice while she was using the service in Kuala Lumpur on May 21.

The victim, 26-year old Wong Mei Yan, claimed that the accomplice pointed a knife at her and forced her to hand over her valuables. She suffered a miscarriage six days later, allegedly due to the trauma and emotional stress she endured.

“Khairy has also put passengers and tourists at high risk. Who will be responsible if any untoward incident happens to them?” Shamsubahrin said.

He urged taxi drivers not to download the online application to work for Grab despite being lured by the e-hailing company.

“Their objective is to attract taxi drivers to drive for them,” he said.

He said when Parliament legalises e-hailing services some time this year, many Uber and Grab drivers would have to apply for a commercial driving licence and send their cars for mandatory checks with vehicle inspection agency Puspakom. He cautioned that this would lead to mounting costs.

“The cost will go higher. They (e-hailing firms) are now fishing for more drivers,” he said.

Ivy Chong contributed to this article.