By: William Lim
By now, most of my friends would have guessed that I was the writer behind the article ‘Singapore should boycott Uber‘. This is not the first time I have called for a boycott of Uber. I did it first in 2013, by writing to the Minister for Transport, Mr Lui Tuck Yew.
Many at that time, including taxi drivers, turned a deaf ear to my pleas. But now, when the taxi industry is so badly hit, the taxi operators are baying for blood – calling for more Government controls on third party taxi-like apps. I wonder if it is too late.
It is more difficult for the Government to introduce more controls over such apps now, because there may be a political backlash if it took such drastic actions. This is because the general public has gotten used to the relative ease this mode of transportation provides them.
What we can do – and is the right thing to do – is to ask the Government to ensure that third-party apps should contribute to the well-being of Singaporeans by paying taxes, and by employing Singaporeans as its managers and backend staff (not just drivers).
Third party apps like Uber are against the principles set by our founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, which assured Singaporeans would be protected at some jobs – being a taxi driver is one. Now a foreigner can compete with the local cabbies and on unfair terms (Read this article as an example: ‘British woman may be Singapore’s only Caucasian female Uber driver‘).
Companies like Uber are not only robbing the livelihoods of Singaporeans, but they also do not contribute to society by paying taxes – which is why I am dead set against the company. But that does not mean that I am a supporter of Grab. I will support any company which supports Singapore economically.
I would blame the former CEO of LTA, Mr Chew Mun Leong, for the predicament thousands of taxi drivers are now facing. The Transport Ministry made several mistakes under his leadership. The changes to the taxi industry is perhaps the most glaring of them all (read this to understand what I am saying: ‘Ex-LTA CEO Chew Men Leong’s poor handling of the taxi industry‘).
As a top-management leader Mr Chew was biased against the rank-and-file who will be most affected by any new policy directions, and he never really consulted with them.