Hong Kong’s Uber saga shows public opinion is no match against taxi coterie

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 June, 2017, 11:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 June, 2017, 11:17pm

I was very disappointed to read that the government plans to squeeze Uber out of Hong Kong (“Minister puts brakes on Uber”, June 7 ).

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 a way to make it 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, as pointed out by Jake van der Kamp (“Uber issue is about politics, not about defying regulation”, June 10).

To add insult to injury, the minister for transport, Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, claimed Uber hoped to “run their businesses and not come under any regulation”. Uber says it has repeatedly offered to discuss regulating its operations. I know who I believe. Cheung also said: “I believe that no country and no government would allow that.” I would like to point out that there are many countries where Uber operates perfectly well and legally, including nearby Singapore and my own Australia.

By giving in to the transport lobby within the Legislative Council, the minister is putting the interests of a few taxi owners above tens of thousands of ordinary citizens, above the 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. It’s a great shame. It makes a joke of the government’s alleged aim to encourage hi-tech moves.

We must hope 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, Discover Bay