Dear taxi drivers of Malaysia,
Hi, there, and Assalamualaikum for those who are Muslim. You may not know me personally — but if you regularly ply the routes of Damansara Perdana or Wangsa Maju, you may have driven me around. As one of the few adult Malaysian men who do not and do not want to drive, I am sure that there is a good chance that I have been taken for a ride by you at some point.
Despite the good and sincere people out there who work honestly at odds hours driving a cab and ferrying people around, more than a few of you — far too many, by my account — are not exactly the most exemplary of service providers for people to choose from.
Stories abound about taxis that refuse to use the meter rate; drivers who refuse to take you where you want to go, unless it is convenient for them; drab cabs and shabby cabbies — never mind the ones who drive when drunk, nor the ones who cheat the customer in myriad ways, such as taking unnecessarily longer routes, using tampered meters and even outright theft/robbery. Honestly, there’s a reason you guys are listed in the Top 10 Countries with the Worst Drivers on the LondonCabs website.
Well, ever since a few years ago when Uber and Grab started showing up on the scene, you have managed to make your already grimy image take even more of a beating, by literally giving a beating to cars that you either know or suspect of belonging to Uber and Grab. And now, even as the government has finally realised that it has to give in and announce that it recognises the value and legality of ride-sharing apps, you continue to make noise, threats, and give ultimatums in the form of commitment to organise strikes.
My dear abang-abang teksi (since there are much fewer kakak-kakak teksi out there), I’m sorry to say that it ain’t going to work. You see, Malaysians are a strangely patient lot, as the crop of political parties that have a mandate clearly show. Yet even they have had enough with your tantrums — which is why when the Malaysian Taxi Drivers’ Transformation Association (Pers1m – honestly, who came up with this name?) announced plans to hold a six-day protest over the recent Cabinet ruling, people sarcastically encouraged that the strike be extended to six months or even six years.
Worldwide, there is a shared phenomenon that has come to be known as the “crab bucket” situation: whenever a fisherman wants to sell crabs at the market, he just puts all the live ones in an uncovered container, usually a bucket or basket. There is no need to put a lid on the container, because any individual crab that tries to escape finds the other crabs latching on to it; it becomes too heavy, to move away, and thus is still trapped. It is no wonder that literally every society that is familiar with this situation has a proverb regarding a crab bucket, where the mentality seems to be “If I cannot have it, neither can you”.
The real problem is the majority of taxi-permit holders, who tend to be unscrupulous cronies that are squeezing you every day. If you have a beef, take it up with them, and stop harassing your customers and the innocent general public — who, it must be stated, do not owe you a living, and are not obliged to use you. Be gentlemen drivers; no one likes a sour puss — or in this case, a crabby cabby.