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Mahathir and taxi drivers

  • When every finger is pointed at taxi drivers, does anyone ever think who created all this, or who issued the taxi permits? Were the taxi drivers going too far by asking Mahathir's help?

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

In the squabble between Mahathir and taxi drivers, Malaysians in general lean towards the former.

Which is not surprising.

Many are of the opinion that Mahathir as the country's leader deserves some basic respect. As for the taxi drivers, they are but a bunch of rowdy, unreasonable, greedy and uneducated folks.

Even not because of this particular incident, Malaysian taxi drivers have long suffered bad reputation among the consumers, many of whom can relate their unpleasant personal experiences with taxi drivers to you.

Of course, I agree that the attitude of a handful of noisy taxi drivers at the Langkawi dialogue was indeed undesirable, and that the prime minister ought to get some basic respect.

Nevertheless, I have reservations in putting all the blame on taxi drivers, especially if I throw in the special relationship between Mahathir and the country's taxi drivers.

I made several trips to Langkawi before the general elections, and had chats with some of the taxi drivers on the island.

I can very safely say that majority of taxi drivers there were furious about the then BN government, and they showed their overwhelming support for Mahathir with the hope Mahathir could bring the change and deliver them out of the current doldrums.

It is understandable that these taxi drivers would get frustrated now that Mahathir has been elected their MP and even PM but has failed to meet their expectations.

You may argue that the taxi drivers only have themselves to blame for the poor service quality.

I do agree that our taxi service is of a quality way below that of Singapore, Taiwan or even Thailand. The issue is not their service quality per ser but their relatively better systems.

The utterly rotten taxi service in Malaysia can be attributed to our rotten system, and this rotten system is closely related to Mahathir himself.

When Mahathir was the prime minister in the 90s, the country's taxi operation was monopolized by a small group of privileged companies, and only those with special connection can get a taxi permit.

Those who want to drive a taxi would have to apply with these taxi companies which would leased their vehicles to the drivers.

A big chunk of these drivers day-to-day earnings went to the taxi companies, leaving them with not much after paying for fuel and maintenance.

And these so-called "taxi companies" never performed their obligations of training the drivers and improving their service attitude, nor providing them an efficient vehicle hailing system.

Because of such a repressive system, many drivers could hardly make ends meet. In the end, they had no choice but to tax their passengers.

When every finger is pointed at taxi drivers, does anyone ever think who created all this mess, or who issued the taxi permits and allowed the establishment of "taxi companies"?

Were the taxi drivers going too far by asking Mahathir's help?

In this whole thing, taxi drivers are the oppressed lot, and consumers the eventual victims.

 

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