BN wrong in saying DAP opposes legalising Uber, Grab


PETALING JAYA: Liew Chin Tong has dismissed any suggestion that DAP is against legalising ride-sharing services Uber and Grab.

Responding to a statement from Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications (BNSC) deputy director Eric See-To, the Kluang MP said he had only questioned the allegation of possible “quid pro quo” between Putrajaya and Uber, as reported by Bloomberg yesterday.

“See-To has missed the point about my statement on the investigations by Uber into financial arrangements with the Malaysian government,” Liew told FMT.

See-To had questioned DAP’s response to news that the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) had opened a federal probe into whether Uber broke laws against overseas bribery.

“What does DAP find to be so wrong about the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) making a smart early stage investment in Uber since it is the exact business of a fund to make profitable investments?

“What does DAP find to be so wrong for KWAP and Uber to work with the Malaysian Global Initiative and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to promote entrepreneurship?” See-To had said in a statement issued this afternoon.

See-To was responding to Liew, who had this morning, called for Treasury secretary-general Irwan Serigar Abdullah and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri to respond to the allegations in the Bloomberg report.

Dismissing another accusation by See-To, Liew said he did not oppose the amendments to a bill to regulate Uber and Grab.

“I just said that the Malaysian Parliament must never pass a bill of law just because it was heavily lobbied by Uber.

“Neither should they pass a law because some government officials could have unlawfully benefited in the process. Please ask him to read my statement properly,” said Liew, who is the Johor DAP chairman.

In his statement earlier today, Liew said Irwan, as chairman of both MaGIC and KWAP, owed the Malaysian public an answer on his role in the alleged scandal.

He said MaGIC must disclose the donation it had received while KWAP, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Khazanah Nasional must also disclose their investments in Uber to the Malaysian public as there was a high probability of conflict of interest.

Liew said during the parliamentary debate on the amendments to the Land Public Transport Commission Act (2010), he had asked Nancy to provide details regarding the investments of Khazanah and other government-linked investment companies in Uber, but she had not given any reply.

Liew also warned that sooner or later, taxis would be wiped out and e-hailing drivers would be further squeezed by the duopoly of Uber and Grab.

“If it is found that the government sided with Uber because of bribery and lobbying, this would be tantamount to a betrayal of ordinary Malaysians,” he said.

Liew has also accused See-To of trying to instigate Uber and Grab drivers by claiming that he was against their interests.

He then said that by right, Irwan should be the one to respond to the allegations raised in the Bloomberg report.

“Eric See-To is not needed here.”

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Uber had embarked on a review of its operations in at least five Asian countries including Malaysia.

In particular, Uber’s law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP is reviewing a web of financial arrangements tied to the Malaysian government that may have influenced lawmakers there, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Also under investigation is a corporate donation, announced last August, of tens of thousands of dollars to MaGIC, which is a government-backed entrepreneur hub.

The report noted that around that time, KWAP had invested US$30 million in Uber.

Less than a year later, Putrajaya passed national ride-hailing laws that were favourable to Uber and its peers.

Lawyers are trying to determine whether there was any form of quid pro quo.

Yesterday, MaGIC responded to the report, saying it was not involved in any alleged arrangement that saw it receive “tens of thousands of dollars” from Uber.