Regulate Uber And Grab For Consumer Protection And Fair Competition, Says MATTA

KUALA LUMPUR, 20 June 2016: Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice president Datuk Tan Kok Liang is calling on the authorities to rein in ride-hailing apps that are now operating outside the ambit of licensing rules and regulations.

Tan said “Allowing the current scenario to prolong any longer is untenable. While legitimate operators incur additional costs complying with licensing requirements, illegal Uber and Grab drivers are having a field day.”

“To add insult to injury, licensed operators are more often than not targeted by enforcement agencies such as the Police, Road Transport Department, Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board, Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.”

“It is a slap in the face when these ride-hailing apps thumb their nose at government agencies by operating private vehicles for chauffeur-driven services without seeking prior approval.”

“If the contention is those who choose to use pirate taxis without insurance do so at their own risk, then those who do not fasten safety belts should not be summoned by the police, as this too is at their own risk.”

“Clearly, laws are needed for the overall good and only effective when enforced. As such, it would be interesting to see how much of the commercial vehicles’ rules and regulations will be applied on services using ride-hailing apps.”

“Will the drivers be required to obtain a public service vehicle (PSV) license and subject to annual medical examination? Will the cars undergo every 6 months inspections at Puspakom for road worthiness? Will the cars be marked for easy identification and passengers be insured? Uber cars should be stamped or patterned with their company logos to eliminate "part-timers" and opportunist. With a level playing field, consumers and tourists can then pick their preference.”

“Although ride-hailing apps can swiftly eject any bad driver, there are two major flaws in the system. There is no way to know until a passenger complained, which is already too late for the victim.”

“The system does not track the driver but the phone, which is transferable. A criminal can steal the phone and masquerade as an Uber driver to rob or harm passengers. In any case, problems associated with traditional taxis should not be transferred to ride-hailing apps when they are allowed to operate.”

“SPAD should be applauded for having completed a study and presented its solutions under the Taxi Industry Transformation Programme to the Economic Council last month. It would be implemented after the Cabinet’s approval.”

“SPAD had described the solutions as geared at creating a level playing field for the future. This is exactly what MATTA is asking for as right now licensed operators are at an unfair disadvantage.”

"The Commercial Vehicle Licensing Boards in Sabah and Sarawak and other enforcement agencies should also take proactive actions before matters get out of control".

“We also urge the Inland Revenue Board to collect taxes from all online businesses operating in the country and the Royal Malaysian Customs to be stringent in collecting the Goods and Services Tax on companies that they have domicile operations in Malaysia.”

“Government agencies need to make a concerted effort to regulate online businesses, particularly ride-hailing apps, to protect consumers and licensed operators. We are ready for fair competition but what irritates the industry is the unfair advantage gained by doing business the illegal way", concluded Tan.