Gojek drivers participate in a demonstration in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday to show their disapproval of disparaging remarks by a taxi owner in the neighboring country. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Gojek Drivers Demand Direct Apology From Malaysian Taxi Boss Over Disparaging Remarks

BY :ANTARA & NUR YASMIN

SEPTEMBER 03, 2019

Jakarta. Hundreds of motorcycle taxi drivers participated in a peaceful demonstration in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday to show their disapproval of disparaging remarks made by a taxi owner in the neighboring country.

Shamsubahrin Ismail, the owner of Big Blue Taxi Malaysia, said in a video that Malaysians were not poor compared with Indonesians and that they therefore had no need to use Gojek, the ride-hailing service founded in Indonesia.

He made the statement in response to Gojek's plan to enter the Malaysian market.

"[Indonesia] is a poor country; we [Malaysia] are a rich country. If the Indonesian youths were any good, they would not leave their country to work [abroad]. Gojek is only for the poor, such as the people of Jakarta," he said in the video.

The statement, which went viral on social media, angered many Indonesians, especially Gojek drivers.

Although Ismail has since issued a public apology in the Malaysian media, the online-based motorcycle taxi drivers are not content and want him to come to Indonesia to apologize to them directly.

Billy Kurniawan, who coordinated the protest action, arranged for the drivers to raise money to pay for Ismail's trip to Jakarta.

Motorcycle taxi drivers meanwhile also protested Ismail's statement outside the West Java provincial government offices in Bandung on Tuesday.

They displayed banners and posters stating: "If we are a poor country, why are you looking for food here?" and "We strongly condemn Shamsubahrin Ismail for insulting the Indonesian people and their government." They also called for a boycott of Malaysian products.

"We will not be quiet if our people, our country, is being harassed by Malaysian businesses; that is what we are voicing," said Asep Mulyana, coordinator of the protest in Bandung.

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