Tuesday, 13 June 2017

"Minister puts brakes on Uber in city road map", 7 June

UPDATE: Printed 26th June, see at bottom.

I was very disappointed to read that the government plans to squeeze Uber out of Hong Kong (Minister puts brakes on Uber in city road map, 7 June). I'm sure this disappointment will be shared not only by Uber drivers, but also by the many tens of thousands of satisfied customers they have served in recent years. There was an almost unprecedented number of online comments on your article, the vast majority of which were in favour of Uber and calling on the government to find away to make it to work. 
Sadly it looks like the government will ignore the public in favour of the small coterie of taxi owners.
I fear the real reason is not the regulatory one, but the political one pointed out by Jake van der Kamp (Uber issue is about politics, not about defying regulation, 10 June).  
To add insult to injury, the Minister for Transport, Anthony Cheung smeared Uber by saying "They hope they can run their businesses and not come under any regulation".  Uber says it has repeatedly offered to discuss regulating its operations.  Only one is telling the truth and I know who I believe.  Cheung also said "I believe that no country and no government wold allow that".  That's plainly untrue, as there are many countries where Uber operates perfectly well and legally, including nearby Singapore and my own Australia.
By giving in to the rotten borough transport lobby within Legco, the minister is putting the interests of a few taxi owners above tens of thousands of ordinary citizens. He is putting the interests of taxi owners above this interests of Hong Kong itself. The effect of his ridiculous suggestion that Uber operate "like taxi companies" would be to bring Uber down to the level of taxi service, rather than to improve taxi service through competition. 
This is all a great shame.  It makes a joke of the government's alleged aim to encourage hi-tech, as you argue in today's leader, (Invest in hi-tech to remain competitive, 13 June).
We must hope this is not the end, that common sense prevails and some way is found to allow innovative, effective and popular ride-hailing services into our city's transport mix.
Peter Forsythe.
The South China ran myletter on 26th June, as the featured letter.  Click to enlarge: