Taxi groups have lately raised the pressure on the government with the same old demand – stop ride hailing, stop Grab. To no one’s surprise, that’s not going to happen. Not under the previous administration, not now.

According to The Star, transport minister Anthony Loke has reiterated that the government will not give in to the demands of taxi groups who want them to ban ride hailing or e-hailing services using private cars, such as Grab.

Loke said the government was aware of the problems faced by taxi drivers, but the issues need to be looked at more thoroughly – not only from the perspective of the cabbies but also that of passengers, who are all for more options. He also had a message for the taxi groups, which essentially reads “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

“Our purpose is to encourage taxi drivers to use e-hailing applications, whether it is from Grab or other companies, (we should) not focus on Grab only as there are 20 to 30 e-hailing companies in the country, there are many more options,” he said when winding up the half-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan for the ministry yesterday night.

Loke also urged MPs to use allocations in their respective parliamentary constituencies to jointly assist taxi driver associations in using smartphones, which will enable them to use e-hailing technology.

Last month, a group of cabbies behaved in a rude manner as they uttered harsh words and created a ruckus before walking out on prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Langkawi. The PM was explaining the issue of e-hailing and had said that Grab drivers would be asked to use vehicles approved by the government, as well as pay insurance and taxes like taxis to ensure a level playing ground.

“I have brought this up in cabinet. I told the (transport) minister to fix it, but unfortunately, there has been no progress. I will try again, I too feel it’s unfair,” Mahathir was quoted as saying by the NST.

The following day, deputy transport minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar explained that the process of creating a level playing field will be implemented in stages to ensure smooth operation for all parties. The process will begin on January 1 next year and will take six months, he said.