A hazy view of downtown KL from KL Tower
In spite of the sky scraping towers and gleaming high rise buildings and ultra modern and civilised looking city, there is an ugly side to this city that most locals were probably not aware of, or chose to ignore.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that KL has one of the worst taxi drivers in the world, even taxi drivers in some less-developed countries are far better mannered than this bunch of loathsome morons.
Be they Malay, Indian or Chinese, they all behaved the same way.The few good ones have become the exception. Cheating, intimidation and rudeness had become trademarks of the profession.
The ill-mannered, crooked and loathsome taxi drivers of Kuala Lumpur would never ceased to cheat, offend and insult you.
Cheating, refusal to use the meter and rudeness are rampant and well organised.Their intimidating behaviour not only offensive to tourists but also to out of town Malaysian like me. If you looked foreign they think you are a tourist and fair game for ripping-off.
As frontliners they have given the country a scary image and this 'Truly Asian' nation where being polite is part of the culture, is not what it supposedly is as in Tourism Malaysia's commercial.
In KL if you hail a taxi the driver would first asked you where your are going and would than decide whether to take you, or not, or quote an exorbitant fare to discourage or try cheat you.
If he does take you than the 'Teksi Bermeter' sign atop his car become meaningless, he would not switch on his meter and would try to haggle price with you and more often than not you are the loser.
There are some who would switch on the meter and take you on a joy ride before delivering you to your destination.That's what happened to my wife and I a couple of days ago.
We boarded a taxi at Sungei Wang Plaza and asked the driver to take us to our apartment at the Ascott near Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a good walking distance if one dare attempt a walk in the blazing afternoon sun. Instead of going straight down Jalan Tun Ismail my crooked taxi driver thinking we are foreign tourists decided to turn into the jammed Jalan Bukit Bintang.
Realising what he was trying to do I asked him in Malay why he took this road instead of going straight down Sultan Ismail and turned right into Jalan P.Ramlee which was much nearer.... his answer was he wouldn't be able to make a turn to our place from Tun Ismail. I almost shouted you bloody moron! You think I am a fool! I decided to keep my silence and see what he does next.
Upon sensing my annoyance he decided to turn into a back lane, the infamous red light 'lorong' (lane) of Bukit Bintang that connects with Jalam Imbi.
The idiot had taken us full circle back to where we first started at Jalan Sultan Ismail and went straight down to Jalan P.Ramlee and finally on to Jalan Pinang to our apartment.He did exactly what he should have done in the first place.
Three days earlier my daughter, her husband and two of my grandchildren came over from Phnom Penh to join us for a family holiday and wanted to take a taxi from Modesto at Jalan P.Ramlee to KLCC, which is a five-minute walk, but since it was raining they decided to take a cab.
If there is anything more absurd and one that can make your blood boil is the sheer uncalled for rudeness and uncouth behaviour.The driver wanted RM20 for the short journey but my daughter refused to board his taxi. Guess what come next? He made a scene shouting at the top of his voice and giving some vulgar signs at my daughter.
One evening my wife and I was going to dinner at one of the restaurants at Starhill and instead of driving the car loaned to us by my brother-in-law, we decided it would be more convenient to take a cab and asked the doorman to get us one.We boarded the taxi having forgotten our previous experience. The driver told us it's RM15 and that quickly brought me to my senses and this time I actually shouted at the driver to stop for us to disembark.He unhappily reduced the price to RM5. We weren't ready what come next.The reduced fare turned into reckless driving trying to intimidate us with violent swinging of the vehicle whizzing through traffic to ensure us a most uncomfortable ride. I almost wanted to break the bastard's neck, if only I could without getting into trouble with the law.
The government minister advising passengers to note down details of errant taxi drivers and asking them to lodge report is as many have found out, a waste of time, nothing will come out of it.
Refusal to allow increase in taxi fare which taxi drivers have been asking for repeatedly but denied by the authority was the reason for the nasty and crooked behaviour of taxi drivers and in retaliation taxi drivers gang-up to show their displeasure by fleecing their passengers.
Across the causeway a taxi driver could face serious action including losing his licence if he refused to stop (except changing shift) to pick up passengers.
There, the government not only talked business, they also meant business.