Malaysia Has the Worst Taxi Drivers in the World ~ Part II

(photo is for illustrative purposes only)

In 2008, Malaysia’s embarrassing open secret was exposed: we claimed title to having the worst taxi drivers in the world.

As someone who takes public transportation regularly for the past 12 years, and who has travelled quite a bit to other countries, I agree. When the above article came out on AFP and subsequently picked up by news service all around the world, I wrote a blog post called Malaysian Taxis – Complaints Etc to help direct people to the right channels and authorities when they have the unfortunate luck of using these scoundrels’ services. Til today it remains one of the most read posts in this blog.

Well apparently our Malaysian taxi drivers are working very hard to retain the title. This appeared in The Star today.

Briton charged RM450 for 10km trip, sparking furore over cheating cabbies

PETALING JAYA: An English tourist was charged RM450 for a taxi ride from KL Sentral to the Suria KLCC shopping centre, a distance of less than 10km.

The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) said the tourist paid the fare before lodging a report against the driver.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said they were investigating and would take action against the taxi driver and the operator.

He said the taxi driver was believed to have threatened the tourist into paying the fee.

“Taxi drivers are our frontliners and ambassadors of the country as they interact with tourists daily.

“We are taking this seriously as it affects the country’s image,” he said after opening SPAD’s new enforcement centre at the Persada Plus here yesterday.

He said SPAD was conducting a study to regulate the pricing mechanism for the taxi coupon system.

“We want feedback from taxi drivers and passengers before proceeding with the study,” he said, adding that there were mixed views about the coupon system.

While some supported it, he said, others saw it as restrictive.

“Some drivers said they would be unable to take passengers if they were not part of the taxi coupon system, while others felt it restrict-ed their movement,” he said, adding that the system was implemented privately by mall and airport operators.

SPAD also announced the purchase of 17 new vehicles, which will be used by its enforcement officers nationwide.

Syed Hamid said the highest number of reports SPAD received were against illegal taxi touts, followed by complaints about overloaded lorries on the road.

In the 3,845 operations conducted since Jan 2010, 74 individuals and operators have been taken to court. Source: The Star Online

I could feel my shame and anger rising as I read this.

  1. We’re only taking this seriously now?
  2. We’re only conducting a study on a price regulating mechanism for taxis now?
  3. We’re only buying more enforcement vehicles now?
  4. We’re only having a SPAD enforcement centre now?

I wish to extend my apologies to the unnamed tourist in the article above. In fact I’d like to extend my apologies to everyone who’s ever had an unpleasant experience with Malaysian taxis. I wish I could say that these are aberrations; unfortunately, and with shame, I have to say that the bad apples happen to be the norm instead of the exception in my beautiful country.

Please read my original post on this matter, you can find it here. Where you can, share it as much as possible. If it can help one passenger in the future from being fleeced, or assist one to get some form of justice, it is worth the 2 seconds it takes you to click the share button.  Sometimes we feel victimised and abused but we do not lodge a complaint because we don’t know how, or we chuck it up to experience and tell ourselves we’ll just end up as a statistic anyway. But statistics can help. It may be slow, but when the number grows big enough, it will be deafening and the authorities will have no choice but sit-up and take action.

Help kick these “thugs” to the curb. In the words of the wise philosopher Dee Snider: “We’re not gonna take it, no we ain’t gonna take it, we’re not gonna take it anymore.”

He’s right.



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14 responses to “Malaysia Has the Worst Taxi Drivers in the World ~ Part II

  1. Pingback: Kuala Lumpur vs Singapore: Which is the Best Running City? | Live Boulder Run Bolder

    • I’ve never ran in SG. But as a Malaysian, and a sporadic outdoor runner, the biggest deterrent from running outside is, hands-down, the traffic. I don’t mind the weather so much, having been born and bred in Malaysia I don’t know otherwise, but the traffic can quite literally kill you. I live in a quiet, green part of Shah Alam, a city north of Kuala Lumpur. We have lovely long stretches of road with nice, shady trees along the way. But the few times I dared to run along these roads were the few times I almost got run over (and I am a very careful and very slow runner, people could see me coming from a mile away). So I am sticking to the treadmill. Safer, much safer.

  2. FirstimeinKL

    It is our first time to travel to Malaysia. At 7am we were so happy to try the express train from the airport to Sentral. Our hotel is just in Sentral also. As we read in the Internet and as the ticketing officer told us that we will only spend 3ringgit to get to our hotel by taxi. As we walked outside, we saw a bunch of taxis just waiting for passengers. Naturally, we asked the amount for the fare to our hotel and we were surprised to hear from the drivers who collectively said that it was 25 ringgit!
    So we went inside and opted for the budget taxi kiosk who told us that it was 7 ringgit only. We asked the officer if we have to pay for our luggages. The officer said no need since it is included in the 7ringgit that we paid for. After paying the ticketing officer, we went outside to ride a taxi. We saw the driver and he told us to pay for 3ringgit more for each luggage!
    I really got so annoyed (we came from Istanbul, so we just endured a 10hr flight to KL) and immediately ran inside to get the ticketing officer. My husband told me that as soon as I went inside the cab driver sped away.
    My husband and I have travelled all over the world and has experienced riding taxis in all of them. We have never experienced riding in taxi cabs that are right outside the airport to be like this.IN MALAYSIA CAB DRIVERS ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM THIEVES. This is my first and last time to visit here. I hate Malaysia! STUPID, IGNORANT, OPPORTUNISTIC MALAYSIAN TAXI DRIVERS are SCUMBAGS.

  3. Gullen

    Had a bad experience about cab drivers here in Malaysia. I’m a foreigner here in Malaysia working an honest job and we were assigned to the night shift. Me and my colleagues take the cab on a regular basis every morning between 5am to 6am.

    The first problem was with my colleagues taking a certain cab, again, in the wee hours of the morning. The previous incident occurred when some of my colleagues took the said cab and after dropping them off at their destination, he told them they need to pay extra instead of following the taxi metre. After settling with what the metre says, he complains and says: “You dare live in that type of condominium but you can’t afford to pay extra. You should walk next time instead.”

    Last June 16, my colleagues didn’t notice we took the same one. I didn’t know because I wasn’t with them when the incident occurred the first time. We said where we needed to go and he agreed. After making ourselves comfortable inside the cab, he dashed the cab and didn’t press the metre to start the fare. Instead, he said: “RM15 for where you need to go…”. Realizing that we are already a bit far where we took off, we were kind of forced to agree and pay RM15 instead of the usual RM12 to RM13 rather than get off and walk back to where we were.

    The second incident occurred this morning. We told the driver where we need to go and he agreed and switched his taxi metre on. Upon reaching the first traffic light, we noticed that the metre has already reached half of what we usually pay so I asked the driver: “Bang, isn’t your metre a bit fast. Usually, it’s a little more than RM3 here at this traffic light.” But, he didn’t respond.

    On the final turn before we reach our destination, the metre has already reached more than RM13. My colleague again asked the same question and I followed it with: “Bang, we take the cab everyday from work so we know how much it is and your metre count is too high.” Again, no response.

    When I got off, I took a picture of his cab’s plate number. I knew he noticed it when he got out of the cab and asked me to go in front for some reason I can’t understand. I told him: “I only took the picture of your plate number so that we won’t make a mistake of riding your cab again.” Then, he muttered something which I don’t understand but I think he was cursing me. When he got seated back to the cab, I went ahead but when I glanced back, I saw him staring at me and he nudged his head upwards, twice. It was like he was egging me to a fistfight. I held my ground and did the same but he sped away after that.

    Is there like a website where I can send a complaint for both cab drivers and their cab company? I don’t want to call a line because of the language barrier so I think it will be more productive if I send m complaints online.

    By the way, I was able to take a snapshot of the first cab’s plate number as well. Let me know if that will help. Thanks!

  4. Hi Gullen, sorry to hear about your experience. You can find the details to direct your complaints in my original post which you can find here:

    I am just a private blogger and am not affiliated with the right Govt agencies in any manner, so I cannot help you in lodging the complaint.

    Just a small point to ask: when the taxi driver charges you, has he also included the 50% surcharge on top of the metered fare? When you take a taxi between 12am – 6am, there is a 50% surcharge. So if the meter is RM10, you will have to pay RM15 (RM10 + RM5 surcharge) etc.

    Anyway, it wasn’t right for the taxi to ask for a fixed fare (and yes this is an offence) and I suspect the meter is doctored. I hope the authorities will be able to help you. Good luck!

    • Gullen

      Hi ijahamran, thanks for replying.

      Me and my colleagues are fully aware of the +50% surcharge on the taxi metre between 12mn to 6am. The meter always shows the bill as between RM8.50 to a little over RM9 which brings the total to RM13 to RM14.

      In the first incident, my colleagues said the taxi metre is working fine, except that the cab driver asked for a fixed price instead of him asking for the fare that was based on his metre.

      On the second incident however, the cab driver didn’t ask for a fixed price, instead, his metre was adding up the fare real fast. Our fare when we arrived was RM13.30, and that was with ni surcharge. When he pressed the button for the 50% surcharge to apply, it became RM20+.

      I already sent and email to CVLB regarding those two cab drivers. We’ll just see what happens next.

    • Gullen

      Ok, now I’ve got a response from the aduan email that I sent regarding my complaint. It says they’re going to conduct an investigation but they’re asking me for personal information. Should I answer back with my details? Some information are kind of sensitive like my passport# and my mailing address which is I’m not comfortable in giving out. I’m feeling tense whenever I know someone knows where I live and I’m thinking that if they have my personal info, someone might get back at me in a bad way.

      So, what do you think should I do?

      • Yes you should give the authorities your details. These will not be revealed to the perpetrators. The authorities need this to ensure that your complaint is genuine and not bogus or a ploy by a rival cabbie to make things difficult for another. They may also contact you and/or conduct a face-to-face interview to get a better understanding of the case. The penalty for these cabbies are steep – they will be stripped off their licence and suspended for a period of time; and if they are a repeat offender their licence will be revoked altogether – and these are in addition to a fine. And if this is found to be a criminal case under the Penal Code – as the act of threatening someone is a crime punishable by the law – they may even get jail time. BTW if you lodge a complaint to the authorities, they will take down your details even if it is just a complaint about a rude employee at the Post Office. It is a standard procedure. They can’t and won’t investigate unless they are certain that the complaint and complainant are genuine.

  5. Gullen

    Wow, that was fast ijahamran. :)

    Anyway, I already sent a reply. I gave details like where and when it happened and the time. I also gave my full name and mobile# but not my passport# and my mailing address(because I haven’t memorized it yet >_<).

    If they ask me to go to their office for interview and stuff like that, I won't be able to do so since I work at night shifts and the only time I'm available is on weekends.

    Looks like I'll just wait for a call or another e-mail from them.

    Thanks again, ijahamran!

  6. wan

    i agree. malaysia have the worst taxi drivers. even in indonesia, the taxi system aint so.bad. pity as most of them are malay muslim drivers. by fixing a price instead of using the meter, isnt that cheating? whereas the top of their taxi states ” teksi bermeter”.. well, that is why they dont prosper

  7. Harrie

    I wish I had read this article before going to Msia; then I would have hired a car and will be less ripped off. On one occassion when I asked for the reason of the double the charge, the taxi driver said “Blue taxis always charge twice as much”. I was gob smacked. Then he refused to give us our change claiming he has no small change and was about to enter his taxi to leave us until i pulled out my mobile. He reluctantly gave my partner his change and receipt; and drove off in a huff. This is only one of many taxi incidents during my 5 day stay. Really! I like Msia and the people, real nice but the taxis are daylight robbers (even at LCCT and KLIA taxi counters refusing to give a fix price).

    • Dear Harrie,
      a) Blue taxis are more expensive than the other colours. These are premium executive taxis. The driver was not lying. However, he should have given you the change.

      2) As explained in my previous article, there is no such thing as fixed price unless you take a taxi from a designated area that uses coupon system ie. you pay a fixed rate at the counter so there is no cash exchange with the driver except to pay for toll (if using tolled roads). Taxis hailed by the roadside can be very dodgy. Even I, as a local, don’t do this.

      Another option is to call for a taxi using an app called MyTeksi which you can download for your smartphone. I use this all the time now. Not only that it will give you an estimate fare for your destination, it will also automatically email you details of the driver. Therefore in the event of dispute of any unhappiness, you can lodge a complaint immediately.

      Hope this helps.

  8. Tony bell

    26 times to kl on business 26 times ripped off 26 times hated coming here we have now changed our business affairs so we do not ever come to kl
    Sorry kl your cabs have killed your country’s image shame on you
    Shame mainly the Indians world wide run the taxi scams good bye may u rot in your scams don’t cry later when the tourism stops and your not working ..look in the mirrow u will see why

  9. 100% True. Had the worst experience of my life

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