Uber Hong Kong hails star power for female drivers amid legal battle over business

Lucky riders stand a chance to be chauffeured around town by actress Catherine Chau Ka-yee in charity drive for International Women’s Day

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 8:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 10:59pm

Ride-hailing firm Uber Hong Kong has turned to celebrity endorsement, inviting actress Catherine Chau Ka-yee to lead a charity drive to mark International Women’s Day despite the legality of its business in the city still in question.

With a court verdict due on Friday, Kenneth She Chun-chi, general manager of Uber Hong Kong, vowed to remain undeterred even if the outcome was unfavourable.

The court case involves five Uber drivers charged with using a car for hire without a permit and driving without third-party insurance.

Uber secures third-party insurance coverage in bid to be legalised in Hong Kong

“We will not withdraw our business from Hong Kong,” She said.

“The ride-sharing business ­involves the use of innovative technology. The government should amend the outdated laws to regulate this type of business.

“Other governments such as those in the Philippines and Singapore have already legalised Uber. I hope the Hong Kong government is willing to take this first step,” he added.

The appeal came as actress Catherine Chau, known for her role as a journalist in the popular 2015 TV drama The Menu, will join Uber as a driver on Wednesday to salute female Uber drivers throughout the city – estimated to number more than 1,000 – among more than 30,000 drivers for the firm.

In a video statement released on Tuesday, Chau said she was also an Uber rider as she enjoyed its convenient service. Riders using the service on Wednesday will stand a chance to enjoy a lift around town given by the actress.

The firm will also match all earnings by its female drivers on Wednesday and donate the money to Women Helping Women Hong Kong, a local charity group supporting women’s empowerment.

One female driver, Chris Yiu, 30, said she joined Uber in January because she could make extra money with the flexible hours of the service. Yiu said she earned about HK$7,000 a month to supplement her monthly mortgage of over HK$17,000 for a 200-plus sq ft flat she bought for more than HK$5 million.

“As I also run my online sportswear shop, being an Uber driver allows me to promote my business to riders. It’s a win-win situation,” she said.

She also added that female drivers gave riders a greater sense of security compared with their male counterparts.