Saturday, March 16, 2013

Malaysia: Tourist, Taxi Driver Engage in Altercation Over Fare, Use of Meter in Capital

According to, a tourist and a taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur reportedly engaged in a fist-fight earlier today (March 16) when the latter refused to use the taxi meter and quoted the foreigner an exorbitant rate for a short distance's travel.

According to witnesses, the incident occurred at about 1115 hours near Jalan Alor, a popular local section of the Malaysian capital where the best, albeit "not-upscale" restaurants can be found.

The tourist, estimated to be in his 40s, was apparently looking to hail a taxi outside a hotel. One witness said that he had asked at least five taxis parked there earlier to drive him to a certain location, but all of them refused to use the meter and had asked him for a high fare. 

When the economically-minded tourist reached the sixth taxi, his patience apparently got the best of him.

When that taxi driver also refused to use the meter and asked for an exorbitant sum, he started shouting at the driver. The driver shouted back and this was when the tourist got punched in the face.

Apparently very unsettled by what was transpiring, the taxi driver, 51, then got out of his car, retrieved a piece of wood from the vehicle and hit the foreigner with it.

COMMENT: This apparent sequence of aggression vs. counter-aggression eventually unfolded into a full-blown physical attack between the two men.

The foreigner then grabbed a rock and smashed the windshield on the back of the taxi as well as a side-mirror. 

Both participants were left bleeding from various injuries by the time uniformed police arrived, at which point the still angry tourist and taxi driver were taken to the police station where their discourse continued.   

Now, my suggestion is that if you're in "KL," don't argue with uncooperative taxi drivers as you may very well end up with the "short-straw." 

The reality is that taxi drivers all over the world, but particularly in Asia from my personal experience, don't have a "great bed-side" manner.  In fact, they can be pretty obstinate.

My personal advice is that insisting on a driver using the meter is in all likelihood going to be a losing proposition, and is simply going to raise the driver's testosterone level. Consequently, I suggest that you ALWAYS negotiate a fare in advance before you even get into the taxi.

Invariably, this process does involve some negotiation, which is really what the driver wants to do, hoping that he does a bit better than using the meter.

In other words, don't rock the boat, bleed profusely or end up in the police station, as most Asian taxi drivers just want to bargain, which is their way of making out a bit better.

If you operate from the premise that the driver is probably going to "win" in the end, your blood pressure will remain at normal and you'll get to where you're going much faster.