Monday, 02 April 2012 22:18


Rais, even the taxi drivers are tired of BN’s empty promises

Written by J. D. Lovrenciear





The Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim has called upon taxi drivers to “act as the government’s ambassadors.”

In what has been reported in the media, the Minister proclaimed that taxi drivers have been “given aid by the government” and therefore they should be “grateful for the government’s mindfulness”. And that the government, will “continuously safeguard their welfare.”

But not all taxi drivers are Malaysian

Well the Minister is absolutely right. Taxi drivers are ambassadors – but in many countries and not in Malaysia sadly though.

The rakyat know all too well that there are two realities involving taxi drivers. One is that not all taxi drivers are Malaysians. There are increasing numbers of non-Malaysians now moonlighting as taxi drivers. You can easily figure them out as Indonesians or Pakistanis from the way they speak Bahasa and from their looks. True or false?

The other truth is far more serious. Despite fifty over years of giving the vote to BN, the taxi drivers right till this day have to slog for twelve to sixteen hours a day to be able to pay the daily rental for their cars and to bring back food for the family. True or false?

Despite all these years of pre-election promises the taxi drivers do not enjoy many of the fringe benefits that even dispatch riders can lay claim to. Hence driving a taxi is not a vocation by choice but one that is taken up out of desperation and sheer misfortune or hardships. True or false?

Each time citizens and taxi drivers raise the alarm about their plight, the BN machinery swings into action and you will get to hear one or two taxi driver testimonies in the newspapers proclaiming how successful they are and are able to earn no less then RM3,000 per month. The rest of the thousands of taxi drivers just scoff at the news saying “ini semua hantu politik BN lah.” True or false?

Hardships

In the post-merdeka period, almost every taxi driver had his own taxi permit. The taxi driver would work hard (not slog) towards even upgrading to a Mercedes vehicle one day. There was a good day’s work, time for meals and even a good rest during the blazing hot afternoons. True or false?

Today, you find the poor and neglected taxi driver having to endure untold hardships. Even the Limo drivers at spanking KLIA are no exception. Just observe their lifestyles. Going to the toilet is a daily challenge. What do you expect when you have to drive in traffic jams in the city. Filling up cheap gas is a downtime often stretching a good one hour owing to the long queues as there are limited gas stations in the city. True or false?

When a taxi driver goes on leave, it means zero income. But the daily rentals must be paid. So when he gets back on the streets, it is harrowing and grueling sixteen-hours toil for weeks unending. If he falls ill and is home-bound or hospitalized what happens? The entire family suffers through the nightmare of making rental payment, let alone the family expenses and hospital bills. True or false?

Can taxi drivers get legal loans to tide over difficult times? Or easily qualify to buy a house? What is BN’s answer? It is no surprise why one taxi driver – a single father, left a sad and heart-rending suicide note for his only son and his aging mother with a RM300 as his only wealth for them recently. BN you remember reading that in your papers? That poor dead soul borrowed from loan sharks and eventually lost his taxi to the syndicate – another monster that BN cannot wipe out. True or false?

Cronies again

But BN has been churning out so many taxi’s because the permits are held by some crony or company owned and managed by privileged individuals. True or false?

Why can’t the BN create a ‘koperasi’ or a Foundation and let taxi drivers be the shareholders and the owners of these permits? There are so many experienced managers and graduates in transport who can be employed to assist the management of the company. Why must some minster, his or her family member or some tycoon in town be the beneficiary of the fortunes earned from the untold miseries and toils and sacrifices of the humble taxi driver? True or false?

And because of BN’s greedy, selfish unwillingness to help transform the taxi business, the taxi driving is no more a vocation. It is a cash cow for the permit holders only. This also explains why many taxi drivers quit sooner than they take up taxi driving. They are disillusioned. And some drivers rent the taxi and sub-let to non-Malaysians just to keep the car working 24/7 with the hope of making extra to get the children through private college. True or false?
Why don't they fight back

Where are the taxi driver association leaders? Are they not on the dole of BN too? If it is not, why are they not able to voice all these to the BN leaders these past thirty years? If they went public on behalf of the drivers, they would lose their jobs and other perks that come with it, right? Look does it all not smell to high heaven like a tightly woven syndicated operation? True or false?

And now that the GE-13 is in the air, the BN leaders talk shop again with taxi drivers. The past three decades the BN regime trumpets with all the great roads, great buildings, and great but few billionaires it has created. But the poor taxi driver citizen is still on ‘sewa-pajak’ and ‘sewa-beli’ schemes, slogging day and night, everyday, just to put food on the table and pay the rental for the taxi. True or false?

And talk about the ‘sewa-beli’ scheme that BN is so proud of, let us get to the truth first. When a taxi driver takes up this scheme he is also fully responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle. By the time he has paid off the taxi permit holder (a BN crony company), which is protracted over a five year period, the taxi is as good as not being passed by PUSPAKOM as road worthy. And the poor driver would also have ended up paying almost double the price of a new Proton car in daily rentals. Mind you there is also no trade-in value for used taxis right? True or false?

So what's there to be grateful for

So who advised the Information, Communication and Culture Minister that “taxi drivers have been given aid by the government”; that taxi drivers should therefore be “grateful for the government’s mindfulness”; and that the government “continuously safeguard’s their welfare”?

In many nations, including our closest neighbor, even graduates have the option to take up an attractive career as taxi drivers. That is the benchmark of a true development of the people.

Who can help the poor taxi drivers? What have the Opposition party leaders got to say? Let us hear the truth for once, can we, BN?

Malaysia Chronicle