KL-ites rally around Uber, slam taxi services

GO UBER!: Leon Foong, head of operations; Lakshmi Patmarajah, head of marketing and partnerships; and Low Jian Wei, driver operations manager from Uber KL office at The UberX launch back in August

Taxi users in Kuala Lumpur, long frustrated with rude and demanding taxi drivers, are defending Uber on Twitter, pending a crackdown by the Road Transport Department (JPJ) on Oct 1, for not having the required licenses to ferry passengers.

Many described Uber, the taxi-like smartphone-app service, as a preferred alternative to KL taxis that had failed Malaysia for “far too long". 

A foreigner, Shumaes Rashid tweeted that Uber “ doesn't try to rip me off when I visit Malaysia”.

Tania Safuan, who has been taking taxis for 12 years in KL said with Uber she finally feels truly safe and comfortable.

The Twitter support for Uber increased following a mass e-mail Uber sent out to its users, requesting them to tweet “I #chooseUberMY for a safe and affordable ride. @KP_JPJ, @JPJ_Malaysia and @aduanSPAD should too”.

The e-mail, titled Malaysia, the choice is yours stated that taxi drivers were asking the Government to protect them from competition that would improve (the public transportation) service for Malaysians and provide safer transportation for women.

"Unfortunately, the government is listening to the taxi industry and ignoring the rakyat who are pleading for a safe and more reliable choice," stated the e-mail.

The San Francisco-based Uber claimed its transportation partners’ vehicles were fully compliant with the law in Malaysia.

“We look forward to meeting with the government to discuss how we can work together to encourage innovation and create a safer environment for Malaysians, not protect incumbent industries from competition,” stated the e-mail.

Uber is not just having problems in Kuala Lumpur, it is facing bans in Berlin and Hamburg in Germany, while there have been incidents of Uber vehicle vandalism in Paris, France and threats of violence against Uber by taxi drivers in Barcelona, Spain.

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