The rejection of Gojek’s expansion plan to Malaysia has a prolonged impact. Hundreds of online motorcycle taxi drivers rallied again in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, Tuesday (9/3). They demanded the embassy to bring Big Blue Taxi Boss Shamsubahrin Ismail to Jakarta to apologize directly for his statement, which was considered offensive to the people of Indonesia.
This problem stems from the plan of the Indonesian online transportation company, Gojek, to expand its services to Malaysia. As a Malaysian online taxi entrepreneur, Shamsubahrin refused to accept Gojek presence in Malaysia.
He is ready to protest if the Malaysian government allows Gojek to operate in his country. He even said that Gojek is transportation for poor countries like Indonesia. “Gojek, as a transportation company, will not guarantee a promising future. Young Malaysians deserve better than that,” he told Free Malaysia Today on Wednesday (8/21).
He sees that Indonesia and Malaysia have different cultures. In Indonesia, women may hold onto motorcycle riders, most of whom are men. “Gojek can be applied in Indonesia because the poverty rate is very high, unlike in Malaysia,” he said.
The video showing Shamsubahrin's statement went viral on social media and angered the Indonesian people, especially drivers of online motorcycle taxis. They threatened to gather ten thousand drivers to surround the Malaysian Embassy if Shamsubahrin did not clarify his statement.
This problem has been resolved. A few days earlier, representatives of the online motorcycle taxi association had met with Malaysian Embassy officials. The Two-Wheel Action Movement Presidium (Garda) Chairman Igun Wicaksono said he had handed over an open letter about their stance towards Shamsubahrin’s statement.
Igun said the matter with Shamsubahrin Ismail was resolved. “So, we have closed this matter. Hopefully, there will be no more actions or anything in the future,” he said at the Malaysian Embassy Office, Jakarta, Friday (30/8).
During the meeting, the drivers welcomed positively the response from the Malaysian Embassy, which claimed to deplore Shamsubahrin's statement. Not only from Gojek but representatives of Grab drivers also came to the Malaysian Embassy. Most of them are representatives of online motorcycle taxis in the Greater Jakarta area.
He also revealed that initially, the online motorcycle taxi drivers would rally in front of the Malaysian Embassy on Tuesday (3/9). However, they arrived earlier than the planned time because there was already an apology from Shamsubahrin.
As a result of his statement, Shamsubahrin claimed to have received many short messages on his cellular phone from Indonesians. “I apologize for my mistake in labeling Indonesians as poor,” he said.
He said that the people in Indonesia were poor based on reports from Indonesia itself that had spread throughout the world. He showed a copy of an article from The Straits Times, a Singaporean media company, which featured Prabowo Subianto’s photograph.
The article was titled “Prabowo Subianto vows to lift poor out of poverty as he sets out vision.” It means that Prabowo promised to free the poor from poverty. This article was published on The Straits Times website on January 16, 2019. At that time, Prabowo was a participant in the 2019 Presidential Election and conveyed his campaign mission.