Be agents for change, Anwar tells cabbies
The opposition leader also pledged to draw a comprehensive plan for cabbies including the issuance of individual permits and loans to purchase vehicle.PETALING JAYA: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has urged taxi drivers in the country to be the agents for change as they were the ones who best understood the people’s hardship.
Addressing some 500 cabbies at a gathering last night, he said cabbies spoke to tens of passengers each day, hence they knew the issues on the ground.
“You must be the agent for change, you must exercise the utmost patience and wisdom, and explain to people why they need to save this country now,” said the PKR de facto leader.
Anwar said cabbies could also assist in distributing the opposition’s booklets to the public.
“Maybe the special branch officials will spot check your vehicle, but you can say you know these are the opposition materials and you purposely want to test (them),” he quipped.
The opposition leader criticised the government for “robbing” cabbies by issuing permits en bloc to crony companies, which in turn charged cabbies exorbitant permit rental fees.
He pledged to draft a comprehensive plan for the cabbies, including issuance of individual permits and bank loans to purchase vehicles, should the opposition pact succeed in wresting federal power.
Anwar said while individual permit is good for the industry, impoverished cabbies needed aids to purchase vehicles to start off their business.
“Why is it so hard to give small loans of RM3000, RM4000 to cabbies while (a) minister’s family is getting loans worth billions of ringgit?” he said.
He said he will seek cabbies’ further input on the issue and would consider setting up cooperatives to assist them.
Permits, rentals, socso
Anwar’s latest pledge came a year after he promised the cabbies in a similar gathering that Pakatan would end the issuance of permit en bloc to companies and would instead give these out to individual drivers.
This year’s gathering, themed as “cabbies the country’s pulse”, also featured speakers such as Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy, former Perak MB Nizar Jamaluddin, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo and leaders from various cabbies associations.
The associations’ leaders submitted a 10-point memorandum to Anwar at the end of the gathering.
Some of the resolutions included allowing cabbies to be covered by the social security scheme (Socso), amending the current hire purchase agreement for vehicles, establishing a pan-peninsular taxi drivers organisation and a special home loans scheme as well as introducing a special sole proprietorship scheme.
Meanwhile, the associations’ leaders also took turns to jab at the RM520 tyre vouchers offered by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak earlier this year, saying that such measure was not practical.
“We can buy tyres in shops, but can we buy permit in shops?” said the event’s organising chairman S. Manogaran.
KL and Selangor Taxi Drivers Association deputy secretary K. Rajarathinam said various associations have been pressing the Human Resource Ministry to extend Socso coverage and benefits to cabbies. But the authorities’ excuse is that there is no provisions for such in the law.
“If there is no law, then go and make one lah. If not what for all the MPs are sitting in parliament?”
“They can come out with law in such a short time to legalise the foreign immigrants, can’t they just do the same to taxi drivers?” asked Rajarathinam.
Meanwhile, Meter Taxi Drivers Action Body (BBPTB) chairman Amran Jan pointed out that shopping centers such as KLCC have imposed hefty charges on cabbies who want to fetch customers from their premises.
He said there was no law to allow these premises to do so but the government agencies have been passing the buck when asked to look into the issue.
Currently under the hire purchase agreement, cabbies need to fork out from RM3000 to RM7000 down payment to rent a vehicle from taxi company, on top of a daily rental charge from RM38 to RM48.
Cabbies would own the vehicle after five years but they would again need to pay between RM18 and RM28 per day for permits.
Taxi driver and PKR member S. Subramaniam said a Iswara taxi car only cost RM27,000, but taxi companies set to rack in RM70,000 through the unfair agreement.
The taxi companies only need to pay RM120 royalty for a permit every once in seven years to government.