SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar waiting for rape by Uber Cab Driver

The rape of a young woman by a cabbie, that too of a reputed international firm, has yet again put the focus on how unsafe Delhi is for women, especially after dark.

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You Are…

At least 21 years old, with a personal license and personal auto insurance.

Your Vehicle Is.

Any mid-size or full-size 4-door vehicle, in excellent condition.

Choice is a beautiful thing.

Riders love it.

Drivers love it.

The Rakyat love it.

Taxi companies don’t love it.

A professional chauffeur with a commercial license and commercial auto insurance.

Your Vehicle Is…

A black sedan, town car, crossover SUV that comfortably seats 4 passengers, or a full-size SUV that comfortably seats at least 6 passengers.

You Are…

At least 21 years old, with a personal license and personal auto insurance.

Your Vehicle Is.

Any mid-size or full-size 4-door vehicle, in excellent condition.

UBER SERVICES MUST BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW

 

Although it has received a large number of complaints about Uber, the company offering transport service through a smartphone application, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) is dealing with the issue cautiously as the service was popular.

Its chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar (pic) said on top of complaints, the commission has also received memorandums from taxi drivers in the Klang Valley who claim Uber  has affected their income.

“We have received complaints and memorandum from taxi drivers about Uber. And it is not a small number,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.

He said the fact that Uber was operating with private cars which have no operating license was already against existing public transport laws.

“As far as I know, they also do not have public liability insurance which puts the safety of passengers at risk.

“And they are working outside the system as they are not like taxi mongers. I have seen their advertisement in newspapers calling for those with extra cars to register and drivers to work for them,”

He added that he had raised the concerns about Uber at a Cabinet committee meeting on tourism recently.

On Sunday, the Gabungan Persatuan dan Syarikat-Syarikat Teksi Semenanjung Malaysia (Gabungan) had called on SPAD to take action against Uber.

Gabungan deputy president Datuk Mohd Alias Abdul said other than SPAD, the police, Road Transport Department and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission should also work together to address the issue, which had affected the income of taxi drivers in the Klang Valley.

“The company does not have any business licence or office in Malaysia but has been operating in dozens of cities around the world through the Internet and smartphone application.

“‎What’s worrying is that Uber does not have a taxi permit issued by SPAD and it is also believed that its drivers do not have the public service vehicle (PSV) licence.

“This situation will cause many problems to the passengers in the event of any untoward incident, crime cases or road accidents,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

But, Syed Hamid said Uber’s service was very popular in Malaysia because of its excellent service, adding that this was one reason why the issue had to be looked into very carefully.

“We are still gathering facts about this and studying the matter to see what kind of laws have been breached and what action to take.

“We will have to get our facts right before taking any action as it would not be fair on Uber and especially since the application is widely popular in Malaysia.

“I know of people who use the Uber services, including ministers, who have been very happy with it. They are very satisfied with its service.”

Syed Hamid said the popularity of the Uber application was an indication that the public wanted good taxi services and would not depend on regular taxis if their service was not up to mark.

“What is clear is that the public demands good service. So our taxi services have to buck up. This is why there is a gap and Uber has somewhat filled the gap.

“And although we like any improvements to the public transportation system, it must be within the system. We cannot have them operating outside it.”

The former home minister said Uber has been banned in several other cities including in Brussels, Belgium. South Korea is also looking to ban it in the near future citing passenger safety and the threat to the livelihood of licensed taxi drivers as reasons.

Besides that, in June, more than 10,000 taxi drivers from several cities in Europe took to the streets to protest against Uber.

Uber began as a startup in San Francisco, United States. The service has extended to 44 countries.

Uber’s transport service for the Klang Valley has been available since last year.

Apart from the website, the service was also made available through Facebook and Twitter.

One of the key benefits of Uber is its cash-less experience.

A registered user just has to provide a credit or debit card to his/her Uber account when signing up for the service and Uber will subsequently charge the customer after each ride.

The rates are calculated from the system and Uber will send a detailed receipt with complete fare breakdown by email.

Uber is charging RM2 for every kilometre with a starting charge of RM7 and a minimum charge of RM13 for a trip for its Uber Black premium transport service. The Uber X budget transport service, however, starts at RM1.50 and a minimum charge of RM2.50.

The company’s fares are fixed at RM68 for a one-way trip from Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Putrajaya, RM270 for Uber Black and RM80 for Uber X from KL to KL International Airport, and RM150 from KL to Genting Highlands, Pahang.

Earlier this month, Uber head of Asia Pacific Expansion Chan Park said that contrary to popular belief, Uber was not a transport provider but a technology company providing an app solution to help match a customer with a licensed transport provider.

Likening Uber to online services such as Expedia and Agoda, Park said that in every city where the app is available, Uber has worked with existing and new licensed transport providers to match the needs of its registered customers.

“These licensed transport providers may be single-car operators or a company with as many as 100 cars.”

Regular Uber user K. Anand said its service was much better than the regular taxi services that he had used before.

“It has a very good pick-up time. You don’t hear excuses such as ‘we don’t go there’, and ‘it’s jam at this time’ and all that you hear from normal taxis,” he said, adding that contrary to what taxi drivers said, Uber services were relatively cheaper.

‎”And if they don’t have a car available, they will let you know immediately. ”

‎Anand said Uber drivers added in extra services such as providing water for free during the ride as well as the absence of a surcharge after midnight which made the experience all the more satisfying.

“These taxis are feeling threatened. They know there is an option cheaper than them.

“If the taxi services are so good, why should they worry about people using Uber?” –

Services provided by UBER present a challenging issue to many public transport regulators around the world and cities such as Miami, Berlin and Seoul have in fact banned UBER’s services.

S.P.A.D. is however taking a more pragmatic approach and is open to allowing this service, as long as the services are provided by appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers.

Under the current regulatory scheme, among the vehicles used by UBER, only licensed limousines are eligible to offer chauffeur-driven services and since there are 839 licensed limousines nationwide which are eligible to offer this service, the supply of vehicles and drivers should therefore not be an issue for UBER.

As the regulator in charge of Malaysia’s land public transport, S.P.A.D. takes compliance to the law, local rules and regulations very seriously. And while the public may be satisfied with UBER’s services now, without rules and regulations, there is no guarantee that the public is protected in the long run. S.P.A.D. thus urges UBER to use only appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers.

S.P.A.D. will not hesitate to take enforcement action on service providers that do not comply with the law and possible punishments to drivers and car owners will be according to the relevant sections in the Land Public Transport Act 2010.

Given the dynamics within the industry and as the industry grows and develops, S.P.A.D. as regulator does not and will not compromise and places the safety of the rakyat as its priority.

S.P.A.D. would also like to take this opportunity to urge the taxi industry to use these current developments as an opportunity to enhance the level of service provided and improve the reputation of the domestic taxi industry, in order to further gain public 

confidence

Unfortunately, the government is listening to the taxi industry and ignoring the rakyat who are pleading for a safe and more reliable choice. This week, the Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) threatened to impound Uber’s transportation partners’ vehicles even though they are fully compliant with the law. SPAD’s actions contradict their acknowledgement that “…many users are satisfied and happy with services provided by Uber”.

Malaysians have made their opinion clear. In the media, on Facebook and Twitterconsumers have been outspoken in their support for Uber. Prominent citizens, including Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO of Independent think tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) have spoken up as well, explicitly stating ‘Uber benefits consumers. Reform taxi services instead.’

Around the world, Uber is working with governments to achieve common goals focused on safe, reliable and efficient transportation options, that are regulated. 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.

Malaysians deserve better.

Let’s first look at the cab service — Uber. It is repeatedly being cited as among the most innovative start-ups in the world, the one that has transformed taxi services through innovative use of technology and has disrupted the market enough to evoke fear, even awe, among competitors. In fact, at a recent annual leadership summit at the Indian School of Business in Mohali, most speakers referred to the service as one of the disruptive forces, in a positive sense, that is.

Uber is running into clashes in several markets it operates in. Even in India, it ran foul of the laws concerning payments and had to resort to a tie-up with Paytm to get around the RBI stipulation on payments.

But that apart, it seemed like a service tailormade for a nation where taxi services are a generally scary experience. The driver’s picture and telephone number come to you before you board the cab and it is all tracked on GPS. In fact, I myself have recommended the service to several of my friends and relatives, including our Washington correspondent Chidanand Rajghatta and his wife during their recent India visit.

The aggressive marketing and promos have meant that most who have used the service in the big metros have ended up spending less than what they would on an autorickshaw.

So, when news came in about the horrendous rape incident, imagine the shock when one learnt that the driver had not been verified and the company said it had no information about him. Worse, as reports now point out, the driver is actually a repeat offender and had spent 7 months in jail in 2011 over rape charges. Almost unbelievable! To add to that, the GPS record too was available only on the company’s servers in the US and it would take time to retrieve it. You sure have a lot to answer for that, Uber!

Almost all the factors that made me believe the service was safer were missing.

Of course, you could still say it was an individual driver and anyone could turn into a monster. But the fact that the driver wasn’t verified isn’t acceptable.

But having said that, one still feels that although it is easy to slam the taxi company for its poor methods adopted here, one still wonders if the issue is not much deeper than that.

One keeps harping about education and educated drivers. But where are educated drivers? In a class-conscious society marked by a total absence of dignity of labour, driving is seen as low-class work. Under the circumstances, hardly anyone who is educated wants to become a driver. The pool available to Uber or anyone else, therefore, is the same. It could have been any cab company, really!

But no verification is still a flaw, and a huge one at that.

In a nation where we can get a licence, sitting at home, that is the least one expected of someone trying to be a game changer.

Beyond that though, I am still unsure of how anyone can rein in the drivers who turn into monsters at the slightest pretext.

Perhaps the government should make self-defence training a must for all women and hand out free pepper sprays to them in good measure.

US-based cab company Uber was on Monday booked for cheating by the Delhi Police in connection with the alleged rape of a 27-year-old finance company executive in its cab by the driver on Friday night here.

It said the transport department has cancelled the permit and registration certificate of the taxi (DL1YD 7910) and driving licence of the accused.

According to the department, the taxi permit was granted on May 28, 2014, after due verification of character and antecedents of the permit holder.

Government said that Uber, the US-based cab firm, misled the commuter (rape victim) about the nature of the taxi service offered by its App.

“We have registered a separate FIR against Uber under Section 420 (cheating) of IPC. In investigations so far, it emerged that the company cheated their customer on the pretext of providing safe commuting with duly verfied driver,” deputy commissioner of police (north) Madhur Verma said.

Earlier in the day, a senior Delhi Police official said “we may book the company under CrPc section 188 and other charges as criminal negligence and abetment to the crime have been made out against Uber”.

 

uber-getty

The investigations have gathered momentum amid growing outrage over the rape allegedly by a driver of Uber who had been arrested on Sunday.
“We wanted to know the role of the company while it brings the customer and the car driver into contact through its App. What is the liability of the company if the driver commits a crime as in this case? What is the business model, how it works, who are its promoters?” the officer said.

Instead of playing blame games, government must look for effective solution to this dangerous problem…Go back and check, it might be that UBER was forced to accept this driver because of pressure from some VIP or a high profile person. Be sensitive, if you have a character certificate from some top cop, what more verification would you do? You would not go to road and check what the driver did…The police commissioner who issued the certificate should be suspended and disciplinary action taken against him To all those who thinks company ( Uber ) have nothing to do with it – The character certificate of the driver for driving commercial vehicle was obtained without proper verification. The driver had a past criminal record but in certificate it was mentioned that he has no criminal record. Thats why the company is also at fault.


(The “character certificate” which was reported as given by a top Delhi cop to the rape suspect Shiv Kumar Yadav.)

Significantly, Kalanick said, they would “work with the government to establish clear background checks, currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programmes. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.” The officials explained to the police that they give iPhones (4S) to the drivers which are locked and the Uber app from the phone can’t be deleted from them. But if the phone is switched off, the GPS tracker is disabled. “They also said that if the photo of the driver sent to passenger does not match with the driver reporting on duty and this is brought to their notice, the driver is withdrawn,” the officer added.

On Sunday, the police had served a notice under Section 161 of CrPC to the Uber India head and other officials to join investigation.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women, Barkha Singh, has summoned the CEO of Uber to appear before it. “The commission is also planning to hold discussions to draw up a detailed proposal for laws and guidelines to be submitted to the government,” Singh said.

: Delhi government on Monday banned all operations by private cab service Uber with immediate effect and blacklisted it from providing any transport service in the national capital in the wake of the alleged rape incident in a taxi plying for it.

The action came a day after a taxi driver employed by Uber was arrested from Mathura for allegedly raping a 27-year-old woman executive in his cab.

“The transport department has banned all activities related to providing of any transport service by http://www.uber.com with immediate effect. The department has also blacklisted the company from providing any transport service in the NCT of Delhi in future,” the Delhi government said in a statement.

Two years after a young woman was brutally raped in a moving bus in Delhi, yet another rape case emerges from a vehicle in the national capital region. While Nirbhaya was raped with an iron rod, a 27-year-old from Gurgaon says her assailant threatened to assault her with one if she resisted him. She was raped by the driver of the private cab she had hired to take her home on Friday night.

The ceaseless spate of rape cases in metropolitan India, particularly in its national capital region, is mirrored by heartless attitudes towards rape displayed by the country’s parliamentarians.

Comments by India’s defence ministers, both former and current, do not, in any way, make me feel safe as a woman – “One small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us billions of dollars in terms of lower tourism,” said Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister who, until very recently, held the defence portfolio. He was speaking at the annual tourism conference in August.

As Jaitley’s comments were captured on camera, the astute lawyer did not say he was misquoted but misconstrued, and that he was not referring to any one incident. Most of India, including Nirbhaya’s mother, misconstrued his comments and thought he was referring to the 2012 Delhi rape case, as it’s hard to recollect which other “small rape” hurt Indian tourism.

Unhone mujhe bahut dukh pahunchaya hai, mujhe bahut takleef pahunchi hai. Aur jis time un logn ko apni vote ki zaroorat thi, toh har jagah har neta Nirbhaya ka naam sambodhit karke, ki itni badi ghatna hui hai… jab satta mein baith gaye kuch karne ke bajay unhone is ghatna ko chhoti batakar, apni soch ko chhoti batayi hai,” said Nirbhaya’s distraught mother. (It has hurt me very deeply. When these people wanted votes, every politician used Nirbhaya’s name at every venue. Once they gained power, instead of doing anything, they call the incident small and have revealed how small their mindset is)

That a minister, any minister, could classify rape as ‘big’or ‘small’ makes me sick. That the Nirbhaya case, one that shook the world, could be called a ‘small’ case is just plain stupid.

nirbhaya

Our minister was quick to clarify that he did not mean to be insensitive. If his comments were insensitive, his clarification was absurd. For starters, he says he was not talking of any specific incident. I’m scratching my head in an attempt to remember any other ‘small’ rape case, or cases that cost us billions of dollars in tourism. Forgive me for being specific.

“I regret that my statement has been construed or some word that I had used has been construed as being insensitive. That was never my intention,” said Jaitley in his clarification. That he believes the problem lay with how his words were construed, and not with what he said, speaks volumes for his regard for women.

RR Patil lost his job as deputy CM of Maharashtra for a similarly insensitive comment after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008. “Bade bade shehron mein aisi chhoti chhoti batein hoti rehti hai,” Patil had said. (In big cities, such small incidents keep happening). Mr Jaitley, though, is far from losing his job.

Clearly Patil’s comments trivialising the terror attack on a city raised a far greater outcry than Jaitley’s comments trivialising the attack on a woman’s body. We’re a patriarchal society. We know what we need to protect.

Jaitley is no longer defence minister, though. The man who has taken his place, former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, has also made an equally insensitive and somewhat bizarre comment on rape. Footage from a speech in Goa earlier this year has him saying, “If I rape, I face only one inspector. If I start small-scale industry (sic), there are 26 inspectors.”

Parrikar was reportedly upset that he was misquoted as having said, “If a woman is raped, she has to deal with inquiries only from one inspector, but if someone wants to start an industry, they have to deal with 16 inspectors.”

Besides the number of inspectors and the fact that one comment is in active voice and the other in passive voice, it’s incredible that Parrikar found much difference in what he said, and what he was allegedly misquoted on.

The BJP is not the only party to have thrown up leaders who have made insensitive comments on rape. In the recent past, India seems to have witnessed not just a spate of rape cases but a spate of chilling comments on rape from its politicians Tapas Pal of Trinamool Congress had threatened to get his men to rape his political opponents. “Boys will be boys. They make mistakes. Will you hang them for rape?” asked the uncouth Mulayam Singh Yadav of UP’s ruling Samajwadi Party.

However, the fact that other politicians have made sickening comments on rape cannot in anyway be used as an alibi for Jaitley or Parrikar. If the BJP draws inspiration from the Samajwadi Party or Trinamool Congress, it must let us know at the earliest.

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