Wednesday, 31 August 2016

MACAU: Protest In Macau Supporting Uber After They Decided To Quit

Hundreds of supporters of car-hailing service Uber in Macau have vowed to take to the street on September 4 to protest at the government’s crackdown on the operator, which has decided to quit.

The Macao Community Development Initiative has called on Uber supporters in the gambling enclave to join the protest in support of Uber, which will bid farewell to the city on September 9, blaming heavy penalties imposed on the company’s drivers and the authorities’ reluctance to regulate the car-sharing industry.

As of 5pm on Thursday, more than 430 people had signed up for the protest while a social media page urging support for Uber had attracted more than 11,500 likes and a signature campaign kicked off to gain more public support.

In a letter to Macau lawmaker Au Kam-san, Uber regional general manager for Asia Mike Brown said: “We we write to you today [August 22] to advise you of our intention to suspend our service in Macau. The reason for this is the unwillingness of the government to develop a common sense path to progressive ... ridesharing regulations. The penalties imposed on driver-partners have become far too costly, to the extent it is no longer viable to operate.”

Brown said he had notified Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on about the decision on August 16. Chui’s office has not replied. Brown said more than 300 drivers had been fined 10 million patacas since operations began in October.

“Moreover, riders are being detained at police stations without any legal grounds, many who are tourists that regularly use Uber in their home country. Meanwhile, driver-partners are being harassed by police at their homes.”

The US-based car hailing mobile phone app has been popular in Macau, where taxis are in short supply. Its operation in Macau has been deemed illegal by the authorities, who have launched 379 prosecutions related to Uber.

Macau’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio-chak said earlier the government was not suppressing Uber but enforcing its laws. He said firms had to acquire a licence before operating hire car services.

An Uber spokesman said its services in Hong Kong would not be affected.

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