Tue, Nov 29, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Uber takes out ad to slam sharp increase in penalty

ILLEGAL?The ad urged people to sign a petition that would create a separate classification for ride-sharing apps, as lawmakers defended the proposed changes

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Uber Taiwan yesterday published an advertisement in two Chinese-language newspapers to protest against proposed amendments to the Highway Act (公路法) that would increase the penalty for illegal transport service operators from NT$150,000 to NT$25 million (US$4,717 to US$786,114).

The ride-sharing application developer paid for a half-page advertisement on the front page of the Apple Daily and the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).

The advertisement used photographs of people Uber said are its drivers, including parents, pensioners and those who have other regular jobs.

“We embrace the power of moving the nation forward, but the government is imposing a NT$25 million penalty as a barrier,” the company said in the advertisement, adding that Taiwan cannot afford to have a backward-moving policy.

The advertisement urged people to sign a petition asking the government to amend the Highway Act by listing Uber, LetsRide, Lalamove and other ride-sharing applications as “Internet transport service providers,” which have yet to exist in the current legal framework.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said in the legislature’s Transportation Committee meeting that what Uber did would only cause public authority to collapse.

DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said that Uber did not buy the advertisements to promote its business, but to stop the Legislative Yuan from increasing fines.

“It appears that the company is finally showing some signs of concern over the increase in fines against it. However, the advertisement also shows that it is reluctant to join the diversified taxi service proposed by the government,” he said.

Cheng said that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ diversified taxi service plan would regulate Uber based on the current laws, ensuring that both passengers and drivers are insured and compensated, and that Uber pays taxes in Taiwan.

For the government’s plan to work the ride-sharing application must match service requests with taxi drivers from different taxi service providers and allow drivers to make a reasonable profit, Cheng said.

“The key is that both the ministry and I believe that Uber can continue to operate as long as it follows the rules. All the rulings handed down to the company only ask that it operate legally. This is how the government handles all illegal operations in all sectors,” he said.

“I hope that Taiwanese service operators can compete against multinational companies like Uber, so long as it is done legally,” he said.

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