Big Blue Taxi founder apologises to Indonesians over Gojek comments

KUALA LUMPUR: The founder of Big Blue Taxi services has apologised to all Indonesians and Gojek drivers, after labelling the country and its residents as “poor”.

Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail said that he had received many messages from Indonesians on his social media accounts.

“I hope there are no demonstrations, in the interests and relationship between both countries, ” he told a press conference here on Wednesday (Aug 28).

"I had no intention to insult the Indonesian people. Both Indonesia and its people are in my heart," he added.

According to Indonesian media reports, Gojek riders have threatened to demonstrate at the Malaysian embassy on Sept 3, if there was no apology from Shamsubahrin.

He had described Gojek as a service “only for poor people like in Jakarta, Thailand, India and Cambodia” in a video clip that went viral in Indonesia recently.

Shamsubahrin claimed that he only made the statement based on media reports that he had read about on poverty in Indonesia.

"My statement is based on reports. If they think I'm wrong, I accept it," he said, adding that he had many friends in Indonesia.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman recently said that the Cabinet has unanimously agreed to allow motorcycle-taxi e-hailing services, even though they were previously banned over safety concerns.

The ban was rolled out when Malaysia’s own Dego Ride was offering such services.

Shamsubahrin also urged the government not to make policy decisions based on politics, saying that the decision to approve Gojek was based on politics.

Gojek was founded in 2010 by 35-year-old Indonesian Nadiem Makarim, who is currently the CEO of the transportation network and logistics start-up that offers a wide range of services from ride-hailing to delivery, as well as fintech.

Nadiem had last week met Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

Loke said last week that the Transport Ministry has one month to present a paper to the Cabinet on the mechanics of introducing motorcycle-based e-hailing services in the country.

In 2018, Gojek recorded over US$9bil (RM38bil) in gross transaction value (GTV) in all its operating countries, making it the largest consumer technology group in South-East Asia based on GTV.

Gojek also operates in Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand (where it is known as GET) and Vietnam (GoViet).

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