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Malaysian cabbies worse problem than dirty

First Posted 14:22:00 12/09/2009

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia?A top minister slammed Malaysia's taxi drivers Wednesday, saying they were more of a problem for the tourism industry than the nation's notoriously filthy toilets.

"The complaints by tourists about the taxi drivers' behavior are more than toilets now, so in that context the taxi drivers are worse than dirty toilets," cabinet minister Nazri Aziz said.

"People are complaining about the taxi drivers overcharging, being impolite, and not using their meters, forcing the tourists to bargain with them," he told AFP.

"This is the third-world taxi driver mentality. Even in China now, taxi drivers can no longer (haggle), they just have to take the passengers, no questions asked.

"It's not that all taxi drivers behave like that, it's just a small group of them but that is already giving Malaysia a bad name," said Nazri, who is minister in the prime minister's department.

Complaints about taxis are common the world over, but it has become a hot topic in Malaysia where frustrations are vented on blog sites and in letters to newspapers.

In a survey by the local magazine The Expat last year, some 200 foreigners from 30 countries rated Malaysia the worst among 23 countries in terms of taxi quality, courtesy, availability, and expertise.

The respondents lashed the fleet as "a source of national shame" and "a serious threat to tourists?rude bullies and extortionists."

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