Macau | People convicted of organised crime should be barred from becoming taxi drivers - legislators

Legislators currently reviewing new regulations for taxi operations want people previously convicted for organised crime to be barred from becoming taxi drivers while others consider these could go against social rehabilitation efforts of ex-cons

Macau (MNA) – Legislators are divided about if new taxi regulations should bar people previously convicted for organised crime from becoming licenced taxi drivers, according to Vong Hin Fai, the chairman of the 3rd standing committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL) on Friday currently evaluating the law.

The law proposal states that anyone charged and sentenced for crimes such as sexual assault, drug trafficking or driving offences, should be barred from getting a licence. However it does not consider the crime of criminal association raised as an issue by some membersof the committee.

Speaking after the meeting, the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo Arrais do Rosário, said that when the government was developing the law proposal it considered crimes “that could in anyway put the passenger in danger” but that the government will study the proposal by the committee and consider if other crimes should be added.

“If you see the current law, organised crime includes a large group of situations, and some might not directly cause danger to passengers,” the Secretary said.

According to the committee chairman, the government considers that if organised crime were to be included this would imply that people charged with gaming related crimes or loan sharking would be barred from becoming taxi drivers.

Vong added that some legislators considered that the scope of crimes that can bar access to the profession is already very strict in the law proposal and could go against social rehabilitation policies of ex-cons or “scare away people from becoming taxi drivers.”

“Maybe the sentence is just administrative, it can be a fine or maybe a suspended sentence, with the person removed from access to the profession,” he claimed.

Some legislators also considered that the law “was already very strict” since in case a taxi driver committed four infractions in five years his licence would be cancelled.

“There will also possibly be sound or video recordings in taxis, special training for the driver also be demanded. Taking into account these proposed strict measures, it was debated if it was necessary to demand adding more crimes to the law,” the committee chairman said.

Nevertheless, the legislator stated that there have been a series of reported cases of taxi drivers locking passengers in their vehicles and there was the need to balance the rights of both sides, either the passenger protection or the right of social rehabilitation of an ex-con.

When confronted about the fact that several taxi licences currently seem to be on the hands of organised groups or triads and that not including criminal association in the law would not help solve this situation, Mr. Vong seemed to agree there were indeed cases of taxis controlled by triads or junket operators and that “a lot of attention has been placed in this issue.”