Uber urges President Tsai to ‘let Taiwan decide’ company’s fate

An executive of Uber on Thursday posted an open letter to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the company website, calling on the president to convene a public hearing and let the Taiwanese people decide the fate of the ridesharing service provider.

In the open letter, Mike Brown, regional general manager of Uber Asia Pacific, noted that Taiwan lawmakers are considering increasing the fines on Uber and the government has called for the removal of the Uber app from mobile app stores, developments he said that threaten the interests of many Taiwanese citizens “who have come to rely on the economic opportunities Uber has created.”

Brown said Uber officials have met with legislators, policymakers, academics and politicians since arriving in Taiwan, submitting multiple proposals that demonstrate the firm’s commitment to securing government recognition and regulation of ridesharing.

He cited Tsai as saying that the role of the government is “to guide and even create markets, such that the overall economy can lead industry toward innovation.”

“So we ask you, President Tsai, to please guide the dialogue on innovation, by convening a public hearing on ridesharing and letting Taiwan decide,” Brown wrote.

“It’s time to show the citizens of Taiwan and the innovators of the world that Asia’s Silicon Valley is open for business,” he said.

The open letter came after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said on Tuesday that it has asked Apple and Google to remove Uber apps from their websites, and the National Taxation Bureau of Taipei confirmed on Wednesday that it has ordered Uber to pay NT$135 million (US$4.25 million) in back taxes and fines.

Taiwan’s government has imposed multiple fines on Uber, which is illegal in Taiwan, but the company has ignored appeals by authorities and continues to operate its business, triggering major protests by local taxi drivers, who have accused Uber drivers of not paying taxes on the income they earn, unlike licensed cab drivers.

Tsai’s administration has wobbled on the issue, at one point threatening to revoke Uber’s investment permit in Taiwan, but then backtracking and suggesting an accommodation could be reached, possibly by drafting a new law or amending existing provisions.

However, earlier this week Transportation and Communications Minister Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) announced that the government has decided not to consider special legislation that would allow the company to provide taxi services legally in the local market.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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