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Malaysia Taxi Worst In The World

The ads promoting “Malaysia: Truly Asia” aim to welcome visitors with a warm smile to a prosperous and modern nation, so the taxi fleet branded “the worst in the world” can come as a bit of a shock.

TaxiEven the locals are not spared the shabby service of unkempt and hostile drivers behind the wheels of decrepit vehicles who refuse to use the meter, overcharge and pick-and-choose which destinations they will travel to.

At the popular KLCC mall under Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers is a typical scene, as a gang of cabbies negotiate with a young Norwegian couple just metres from a signboard warning against “taxi touts”.

“Flat rate, flat rate, no metre,” one driver insists as the tourists try to find a cab to take them to their hotel, less than two kilometres (1.2 miles) away.

Anxious to escape the baking heat, they agree to pay 25 ringgit (7.22 dollars) for a trip that would have cost less than three ringgit on the meter.

“Is it expensive? We don’t know, we thought it is normal here,” said the woman as they piled in with their shopping bags.

More frequent visitors, however, are vocal in their criticism and say that aggressive and unprofessional drivers are tarnishing the nation’s image as a squeaky clean and hospitable destination.

“I first visited Malaysia in 2006 and I was impressed by everything I saw except for the worst taxi service I have endured,” said Kabir Dali, an Indian tourist waiting in vain for a metered taxi at another mall.

“I paid a whopping 260 ringgit (74 dollars) from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to town and was later told that was twice the proper amount.”

TaxiComplaints about taxis are common in many countries, but in Malaysia it has escalated to an outpouring of frustration, on blog sites and in letters to newspapers.

In a survey by the local magazine The Expat, some 200 foreigners from 30 countries rated Malaysia the worst among 23 countries in terms of taxi quality, courtesy, availability and expertise.

The respondents lashed the fleet as “a source of national shame” and “a serious threat to tourists — rude bullies and extortionists”.

Salvation is in sight though, as a number of smaller, up-scale operators enter the market to provide a more expensive but quality taxi service for frustrated visitors and locals.

The uniformed drivers, behind the wheels of smart new multi-purpose vehicles and sedans, switch on the meter as a matter of course and do not refuse destinations — surprising and delighting commuters in the capital.

Abdul Razak, operations manager for Dubai-based Citicab which launched here in January, said that even in poorer nations such as Thailand and Indonesia, taxis are smarter and the drivers far more courteous.

“I would say it is the worst in this region, undoubtedly. I have travelled to all countries in this region and our company operates taxis in many parts of the world. The situation here is the worst I have seen,” he told AFP.

“The vehicles are in shabby condition, the driver will take you if he likes your face — that is, if he agrees with where you want to go for the price he insists on.”

The government has called on taxi firms to lift their standards, but various campaigns have achieved little, and many blame the lack of enforcement on rampant corruption in the police and bureaucracy.

“It is difficult for the roads and traffic department to take stern action,” said a security officer at one city mall as he watched the touts swoop.

“Taxi operators and the company which hold the licences are all linked to some politician or another,” he said. “Drivers here are ruthless because they are unchecked by authorities who are almost non-existent.”

John Koldowski, from the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said that “less than desirable” taxi drivers have an outsize impact on a nation’s image.

“The first contact a tourist gets with locals is often during airport transits to hotels and it creates a very, very strong first impression, either be good or bad,” he said.

“Authorities certainly need to do their jobs and act upon any complaints strongly, quickly and visibly.”

Source: AFP

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9 Comments so far

  1. no imageshaxx (Check me out!) on September 24th, 2008

    locals and tourists have been complaining for ages and still nothing has improved. lack of enforcement + corruption + hard headed taxi drivers = bad name for Malaysia!

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  2. no imagesilver.sagi (Check me out!) on November 3rd, 2008

    Yes nothing been improved after all the complaints. In simple, only 1% of the taxi “might” following the rules, if we are lucky to meet them.

    What had been improved after 51 years of independent? shall we take another 151 years to improve? How much more time we need? These are happening in the entire Klang Valley and Selangor….

    Common problems:
    1. Not using meter
    2. meter had been tempered to over-charged customer
    3. refuse to take customer
    4. door cannot open from inside
    5. they took out the window winder
    6. No taxi number inside
    7. If you aware, they taken out one number at the back of its registration plate so customer might wrong jotted down the correct number….

    Why no many people complaints? As we all given up….we never give any hope these will be improved…talking here is more like releasing frustration rather than looking forward for improvement.

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    3.0 (18 people)
  3. lia on September 11th, 2009

    be careful.
    i experienced violence by Malaysian taxi driver.
    the taxi driver kicked and said bad word in malay

  4. Hakimo on October 4th, 2009


    I know this is an old article but I couldn’t help myself to share my opinion. I found this article after trying to google for taxi services in KL and most of the list came out with complaints and articles like this one.

    I recently came back to Malaysia after living abroad for 6 years. I have managed to land myself a job here in KL but it’s quite a distance from my accommodation.

    Since I am currently in training to get my driving license, I have to rely on public transportation for a while. To much of my sadness and even frustrations, getting a cab here is a nightmare. I can write down my complaints and experience but it’ll only add to same list of complaints made by others. Plus I’m just too sad to write about this actually.

    All I can say for now is that taxi drivers are bullies. The seem to complain about not getting enough wages but are not willing to do their job right. It’s your duty as a public service! Please please please do your job right.


  5. dinesh on December 23rd, 2009


    pls try to Unicablink for taxi 1300 88 0303

    thank you

  6. taratara on March 3rd, 2010

    Here’s an iPhone app that help to fight againts dirty cabbies in Malaysia. It’s a complete guide with fare estimator, shortest path recommendation, directory of radio taxi companies and etc. Hotline number to report errant taxis is also provided.

    We can do our part by reporting those bullies to the authority. Looking forward to better taxi services.


  7. Jason Sim on May 12th, 2011

    Hi to all readers and also those who reply.
    Go and get the taxi with running the meter. And all you need is pay according to the meter. And they said they don’t use them, then said bye to them. There’s no such things as flat rate or fixed rate. Meter is a compulsory to benefits the driver and passengers. Get the receipt from the driver. And always keep the receipt for few reason. In the receipt, it content the taxi number plate, company name and the company phone number. So If you drop your things in the taxi, I’m sure you know what to do. If those who are coming for holiday. My advise is go to the tour counter that provide by the hotel and ask for their transport. The hotel tour counter sure got a record of you and your driver. Touch wood to said if accident happened between the time on travel or tour. You got the insurance coverage if you are paying with the meter rate. By t.e way. I’m taxi driver. This is the benefits.

  8. ranjith on December 1st, 2011

    Hi ,

    I have paintful experience in my life.One of the taxi driver cheated me and took my money.He used bad words. His taxi meter is not working.
    Taxi Number HBA7456.Since I am staying with my wife I cannot able to complaint againt this person.Once he came to know my address he might be disturb us.So Please some one complaint againt this person.It should not repeat on any of the local malaysian or foreigners

  9. Another comments on December 18th, 2011

    Complaints been made but no action taken that is why you see more and more taxi drivers like a barbaric…thank you to our out law system here.

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