Focus View
New rules must not stifle e-hailing services
FocusM team | 04 Aug 2017 00:30
E-hailing service providers such as Uber and Grab can heave a sigh of relief that their operations are finally legal. 

But looking at the new legislation that grants the 180,000 e-hailing drivers in the country legitimacy, we hope it won’t stifle the growth of the industry and deter new drivers of the two ride-hailing services. 

It does seem that the new rules of e-hailing services have been tuned to be more in line with that of taxi drivers. Is this really necessary given the phenomenal success of the e-hailing industry? 

The very reason this industry grew rapidly was because it was not bogged down by red tape and unnecessary rules and regulations that governed regular taxis.
With the latest legislation, e-hailing drivers will have to pass screening by the police and Road Transport Department (RTD). Besides obtaining a permit to operate, a driver will also be subject to a medical check-up, driver’s card, insurance coverage and periodic vehicle inspections.
We know how cumbersome it is dealing with government departments. The red tape alone can delay applications for permits by weeks or even months.

Will the police and RTD be able to screen applicants within a week? They must come up with a client’s charter on this. And can Puspakom, the monopoly vehicle inspection company, cope with inspecting another 180,000 vehicles without drivers enduring long queues?  
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, who tabled the amendments to the law, proudly said Malaysia was possibly the first country in the world to regulate e-hailing services. 

That could be because other countries are probably thinking twice before imposing rules that could kill entrepreneurship. Uber and Grab provide extra income for thousands of people. Almost 70% of e-hailing drivers are part-time.  

Countries don’t want to be accused of stifling a service that is rapidly gaining popularity with the public. On that note, did the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) get the views of all stakeholders before amending the law?  
Instead of imposing the rules governing taxi drivers on Uber and Grab, it would have been better to loosen some of the legislation governing taxi drivers. After all, didn’t MyTeksi, a company for taxi drivers, successfully evolve into Grab?