TWO major taxi associations in the country want Putrajaya to shed light into the American investigations into Uber Technologies Inc’s dealings with Malaysia.
They want to know if there were any illegal transaction involved with Uber, which warranted the investigations.
The taxi associations, which represent more than 3,000 drivers, are also concerned that this issue will give the country a bad image, which is already being investigated by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in relation to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.
Big Blue Capital (M) Sdn Bhd adviser Shamsubahrin Ismail said they want more details about the investigations.
“Because whoever made the decisions to invest in Uber could have been involved in some unscrupulous dealing.
“We want to know why the government invested in Uber which was promoting illegal activities.
“I would also like know why the prime minister (Najib Razak) go all out to get Uber legalised. Putrajaya is responsible for answering these questions,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
It was reported earlier that Uber’s dealings with the Malaysian government are being scrutinised by American investigators looking into whether the ride-hailing service broke US bribery laws in its operations in five Asian countries.
The tech giant has also engaged lawyers to examine records of foreign payments and interview employees on suspicious activity in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.
The law firm is reviewing a web of financial arrangements linked to Putrajaya that may have influenced lawmakers, Bloomberg cited sources as saying.
Shamsubharin said people who have a strong relationship with Uber will have a special interest to invest in the company.
“I believe that there is something going on, when the prime minister supported strongly the move to give funds last year for people to buy cars to become Uber drivers,” he said.
It was reported that Uber got a big endorsement from the government for those who wanted to drive for the company but did not own vehicles. They were given a RM4,000 rebate to buy the Proton Iriz.
Uber’s law firm are also probing a corporate donation of tens of thousands of dollars to the Malaysian Global Initiative and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), a government start-up fund launched by then US president Barrack Obama in 2013.
The reports said about the time of the donation, pension fund Retirement Fund Inc invested US$30 million (RM125 million) in Uber, said people familiar with the deal.
Less than a year later, the government passed laws favourable to Uber and other ride-hailing services.
Uber’s lawyers are trying to determine whether there was any form of quid pro quo.
Malaysian Taxi Drivers Transformation Association (Pers1M) vice-president Kamaruddin Mohd Hussain said the American investigations into Uber’s dealings with Putrajaya are bad for the country.
“News like this will tarnish the image of our country. We had our doubts when the government had gave Uber approval to operate here.
“We believe that it was a bad decision by the government, which we believe will diminish our public transportation industry.”
Kamaruddin said they hoped the US-led inquiry will not find or prove that Malaysia is a corrupt country.
“We hope that the investigations will prove that Malaysia is not involved any form of bribery.
“Even though their investment (in Uber) has given a negative impact to the taxi industry here, we hope that their business dealings are clean,” Kamaruddin added.