Passengers’ interests must be prioritised as the authorities try resolving issues concerning the competition between taxi drivers and ride-sharing services.

ON Tuesday, hundreds of taxi drivers literally thought it was their father’s road and decided to park their vehicles in the middle of Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur City Centre and KL Sentral.

These angry taxi drivers took their frustrations to the streets apparently because they could not fight competition from Uber and GrabCar, which have become the ride-sharing services of choice for most people nowadays. I don’t think anyone can be all too surprised by the cabbies’ action.

After all, most of us — if not everyone — are only too familiar with the antics of Kuala Lumpur taxi drivers. Some may say it’s unfair to brand all of them as rogues, and I do feel for the honest ones who are being tarred with the same brush.

But, who can deny that the reputation of Malaysian taxi drivers precedes them. I dare say, the list of grouses against our taxi drivers makes the rap sheet of some criminals pale in comparison.

I may be exaggerating on that one by comparing them to convicts, but seriously, do the cabbies deserve our support in their protest against Uber and GrabCar?

After years of taking passengers for a ride by charging exorbitant rates, refusing to take people where they want to go and, generally, being nothing but a pain, most, if not all, of Kuala Lumpur cabbies are still at it.

One needs only to take a short drive around the city centre to see how lines of taxis can be found parked at choice spots, waiting for passengers, instead of being constantly on the move as they are supposed to as per their licensing requirement.

Try hailing a cab on a rainy day, at peak hours or anywhere around less-patronised areas, and I dare say, one probably has a better chance of striking any one of the four-digit draws that are ever so popular with Malaysians.

Now, when people finally have options in Uber and GrabCar, the same cabbies have the audacity to complain that their rice bowl is being snatched away from them.

Having broken all the rules, they still expect the authorities to side with them when there is some competition to jolt them out of their comfort zone.

Let’s get real here. People who rely on public transport, especially taxis, are fed up with getting the short end of the stick all the time.

Protest or no, it is time the Transport Ministry, Land Public Transport Commission and other authorities, like the Road Transport Department, ensure that the interests of passengers are prioritised as they try resolving issues concerning taxi drivers and services like Uber and GrabCar.

As for the taxi drivers, it is past the time they reflect on their shortcomings, which have led people to abandon them and opt for better forms of public transport.

The writing has been on the wall all these years. It’s just that the cabbies have been too arrogant to take notice.

Talking of arrogance, it makes me wonder what criteria are used to ensure our educators are qualified to do what they are being paid to do.

Take, for example, the incident at a school in Mentakab, Pahang, which has grabbed national attention.

By now, most would have seen the video clip that has gone viral, showing a female student berating her male classmate, who is accused of dropping her calculator.

The male student can be seen pleading on his knees, while his accuser belittles and scolds him. All the while, a teacher’s voice can be heard encouraging the female student as she makes her case against the boy.

The video of the incident, which happened in April last year, has been circulating on social media after a teacher — yes, a teacher — uploaded the clip recently.

Not surprisingly, all those involved in the incident, especially the teachers, are in deep trouble after coming under fire from various quarters.

While the incident is undoubtedly shocking and unacceptable, the explanation that follows from the school concerned is even more dumbfounding.

It was reported that the school had told a politician who enquired about the case that the incident was recorded by teachers as they were “impressed with the female student’s oratory skills”.

The school felt that the girl had the potential to excel in public speaking and debate.

Apparently, two teachers were in the room during the incident before the video was shared in a WhatsApp chat group of teachers.

It is little wonder that an increasing number of Malaysian parents are migrating, with the education of their children given as the primary reason for them moving elsewhere. Go figure.

Sharanjit Singh is a veteran journalist who feels less talk and more action is needed to save planet Earth from mankind.

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