Jakarta – Over 400 Indonesian Go-Jek riders demonstrated outside the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday (Sep 3), demanding a public apology from the founder of a Malaysian taxi company for describing the country and its people as "poor".
They also raised money at the event for Mr Shamsubahrin Ismail, founder of Big Blue Taxi Facilities, to travel to the Indonesian capital to apologise in person.
Mr Shamsubahrin had earlier spoken against the introduction of motorcycle e-hailing services in Malaysia, saying that Go-Jek is only a service for the poor, "like those in Jakarta."
"This (Indonesia) is a poor country. We (Malaysia) are a rich country. If Indonesia's youths are any good, they would not leave their country to look for a job," he said in a video.
His comments came after the Malaysian Cabinet approved motorbike-hailing services last month, following a meeting between Go-Jek founder Mr Nadiem Makarim and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who was also in attendance, said motorbike ride-hailing would create hundreds of thousands of jobs for motorcyclists.
Mr Shamsubahrin had offered an apology for his remarks after the video went viral in Indonesia, but the demonstration proceeded as planned.
Over in Bandung, Go-Jek drivers also gathered outside the West Java provincial government offices on Tuesday to protest, Jakarta Globe reported.
They carried placards that read: "We strongly condemn Shamsubahrin Ismail for insulting the Indonesian people and their government."
"We will not keep quiet if our people, our country, are harassed by Malaysian businesses. That is what we are voicing out," Mr Asep Mulyana, the protest's coordinator was quoted as saying. The protestors also called for a boycott of Malaysian products.
Motorbike-hailing not limited to Go-Jek: Minister
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Anthony Loke clarified on Tuesday that the government was not limiting motorbike ride-hailing services to just one company or organisation.
He said this in response to questions on why the government had granted the green light to Indonesian-based Go-Jek instead of Malaysian-owned Dego Ride, which was barred from operating in 2017 due to safety concerns.
"Many seem to be confused over this issue. The Cabinet has not given any approval to Go-Jek, but only allowed motorcycle e-hailing or motorcycle taxi services to be introduced," he said.
Mr Loke added that once the framework on the service has been approved in Parliament, any company can offer the service.
He said Go-Jek was just one of many motorcycle e-hailing companies and the ministry was encouraging local companies to enter the fray once the service has been legalised. – CNA/Bernama/kd(tx)