Proposed taxi driver protest on October 24 postponed

The proposed taxi driver protest, which was originally scheduled to take place at Padang Merbok on October 24, has been postponed. According to a report by The Star, the postponement will be indefinite as the organisers have not obtained the approval from the authorities.

“We will abide by the law and the police requirements. Tomorrow’s demonstration will be postponed,” said Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail, the founder of Big Blue Taxi and the person behind the planned protest. As reported previously, taxi drivers in the country have voiced their displeasure towards e-hailing operators like Grab, claiming that their presence has disrupted their rice bowl.

Shamsubahrin explained that the protest would be held in order to meet with transport minister Anthony Loke and land public transport agency (APAD) CEO Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah to ensure the authorities followed through on their promise to ensure a level playing field for taxi drivers and e-hailing operators.

Of course, the transport ministry had already confirmed that it would implement reforms in the interest of parity, with no intention of abolishing e-hailing services outright. The process will be implemented in stages to ensure a smooth transition for all parties, and will begin on January 1 next year, to be completed within a period of six months.

Among the amendments include the use of vehicles that are not only approved by the government, but also subjected to insurance and tax requirements akin to taxis. E-hailing service providers must also hold a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license, background and health checks, as well as a test of vehicle roadworthiness. Some of these proposed regulations were made by then caretaker prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

In the past few weeks, disgruntled taxi drivers have been more vocal about their diminished income due to e-hailing operators, and have held a protest in front of the finance ministry on October 17. This was followed by a dialogue with prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Langkawi on October 21, which turned ugly when taxi drivers caused a scene and staged a walkout.

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