The government and relevant enforcement agencies have been urged to suspend the permits/licenses of taxi drivers who participate in illegal gatherings, which were held to allegedly demand justice over the disruption caused by e-hailing operators such as Grab, the New Straits Times reports.

Malaysian Public Transport Users Association (4PAM) president Ajit Johl, who proposed the matter, said cab drivers who organise demonstrations are giving off the impression that they are not willing to reflect upon themselves and improve their service.

He said taxi drivers, who were once regarded as ‘small ambassadors’ of the country, are instead appearing to act like gangsters and trying to cover up their own failure to compete in an ever-developing market by pointing fingers at the government.

“Good, let them have gatherings or demonstrations because this will only prove to the rakyat and consumers that this group of people will never wake up and rise from their failure in offering high quality taxi services. Their image is bad right now, as seen by the rakyat, so organising demonstrations or gatherings will only affect their own livelihood,” said Ajit. “The best way is to rise from failure and improve their service so they can regain the trust of public transport users,” he added when commenting on a proposed peaceful gathering.

The gathering, which is scheduled for October 24 at Padang Merbok, was called for by Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail, founder of Big Blue Taxi and an outspoken voice for taxi drivers in the country, will apparently see over 3,000 taxi drivers from around the country gather to make their case heard for the alleged injustice caused by e-hailing operators .

They also called for the sacking of transport minister Anthony Loke and Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) CEO Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah for their failure to solve the issue, hence angering taxi drivers.

In continuation, Ajit added that these taxi drivers should come to terms that choices made by the public today are somewhat driven by technological advancements and the change in business models, especially in the transport industry.

He said the concept of e-hailing was more transparent in terms of payment, user feedback and safety aspects (newer, safer cars in general), hence making it the preferred choice among consumers.

“Previously, when cabs were needed, they (taxi drivers) were selective because they had the upper hand in controlling market patterns, but all that has changed with the emergence of Grab and Uber.

“Since back then, the attitude of a majority of taxi drivers have not changed – they are harsh and rude – this includes the way some of them behaved when attending the discussion session with prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad the other day. If they can be rude to a father figure of 93 years old, what more with consumers,” he said.

In addressing the issue, the government has resorted to creating a level playing field, in that both ride-hailing drivers and cabbies will be subjected to the same rules and regulations. The process will be implemented in stages to ensure smooth operation for all parties, and will begin on January 1 next year and expected to be completed within a period of six months.