Sat, Nov 19, 2016 - Page 11 News List

Uber appeals to Tsai to let public decide its fate

PUBLIC HEARING:With the government restricting its app and increasing fines, the ride-hailing service said it offers innovation and economic opportunities for Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

An Uber Technologies Inc executive on Thursday published an open letter on the company’s Web site, calling on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to convene a public hearing and let Taiwanese decide the fate of the ride-hailing app.

Uber Asia-Pacific regional general manager Mike Brown said that Taiwanese lawmakers are considering increasing the fines on Uber and the government has called for the removal of the app from mobile app stores, developments that he said threaten the interests of many Taiwanese “who have come to rely on the economic opportunities Uber has created.”

Brown said that Uber officials have met with legislators, policymakers, academics and politicians since arriving in Taiwan, submitting multiple proposals that demonstrate the firm’s commitment to obtaining government recognition and the regulation of ride-hailing.

He cited Tsai as saying that the role of the government is “to guide and create markets, such that the overall economy can lead the industry toward innovation.”

“So we ask you, President Tsai, to please guide the dialogue on innovation, by convening a public hearing on ridesharing and letting Taiwan decide,” Brown wrote.

“It’s time to show the citizens of Taiwan and the innovators of the world that Asia’s Silicon Valley is open for business,” he said.

The letter came after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday said that it has asked Apple Inc and Google to remove Uber from their app stores in Taiwan, while the National Taxation Bureau of Taipei on Wednesday said it has ordered Uber to pay NT$135 million (US$4.22 million) in back taxes and fines.

The government has imposed multiple fines on Uber, which is illegal in Taiwan, but the company has ignored appeals by authorities and continues to operate its business, triggering protests by taxi drivers, who have accused Uber drivers of not paying taxes on the income they earn, unlike licensed cab drivers.

Tsai’s administration has wobbled on the issue, at one point threatening to revoke Uber’s investment permit only to backtrack and suggest that an agreement can be reached, possibly by drafting new legislation or amending existing provisions.

However, earlier this week, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) announced that the government has decided not to draft special legislation that would allow the company to provide taxi services legally in the nation.

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