Minister rebuked over ride-hailing crackdown

Updated: 2015-12-19 11:46

By Reuters in Jakarta, Indonesia(China Daily)

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Indonesia's president publicly rebuked one of his Cabinet ministers on Friday for a clampdown the day before on ride-hailing services such as Uber and Go-Jek, which triggered outrage on social media in a country where public transport options are limited.

Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan's restriction, which sent shares of taxi companies soaring in morning trade, will be seen as another embarrassment for President Joko Widodo, who has struggled to keep Cabinet members in line since he took office last year.

Just months ago, Widodo had invited dozens of motorbike drivers employed by Go-Jek, whose lime-green colors are now ubiquitous in the traffic-clogged streets of Jakarta, to lunch at his palace.

"Don't let the people be burdened because of regulations," Widodo said on his Twitter account, adding that regulations "need to be managed" and he would "immediately" summon Jonan for talks.

Minister rebuked over ride-hailing crackdown

Innovation by the younger generation should not be restrained, and applications such as Go-Jek exist because they are needed by society, Widodo told reporters at the palace on Friday.

The Kompas newspaper reported on its website late on Thursday that Jonan's ministry had banned the use of personal vehicles for public transport.

But the minister backpedaled on Friday, saying in a statement that online ride-hailing services could continue to operate until a solution to meet public transport needs is found. He gave no further details.

This episode shows that Widodo is "unable to fully control his ministers," Firman Noor, a political analyst at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said by telephone.

"There seems to be relative independence at the ministries to make their own internal decisions that may not be communicated to the president," Noor said.

(China Daily 12/19/2015 page9)