DAP: Law on e-hailing services must protect driver, passenger

Liew-Chin-Tongtalik

KUALA LUMPUR: The Land Public Transport Act amendment should protect the interest of the drivers and passengers instead of just addressing the issue of regulating e-hailing (or ride sharing) services, such as Uber and Grab.

DAP’s Liew Chin Tong said there is a need for the government to play a role in planning a long-term solution for the e-hailing industry.

“Any amendment to the Act must not just allow for the existence of a duopoly of Grab and Uber, as is the case at the moment.

“This is because the bill that was presented to Parliament intends to recognise the duopoly of Grab and Uber. These are the two big companies that control the Malaysian market at the moment,” he said at the DAP headquarters here, today.

Citing China as an example, Liew said a duopoly environment will only make the taxi industry suffer.

“China was a duopoly, Uber and Didi Chuxing. But eventually Didi Chuxing became too big and Uber sold it to Didi Chuxing. And China Didi Chuxing is now a monopoly in the country,” said Liew.

Back in August 2016, global ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc decided to give up its costly battle for China’s riders, swapping its local operations there for a minority stake in the country’s homegrown champion, Didi Chuxing Technology Co.

In a deal valuing the combined company at US$35 billion, Uber received 5.89% of the newly-merged firm’s assets, which is equal to a 17.7% economic interest in Didi Chuxing.

“What is important is we must create a level playing field in the taxi industry which also gives the drivers proper safeguards and protection,” said Liew, who is also Kluang MP.

The amendment to the Land Public Transport Act to regulate Uber and Grab services is expected to be tabled for a second reading in the Dewan Rakyat sometime in July.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri said the amendment was to ensure that all aspects of the operations and procedures of the services are running smoothly and can be regulated by the government.

Meanwhile, Ong Kian Ming said the end goal for the amendment should be a market whereby e-hailing drivers are properly compensated.

“It should also ensure e-hailing companies not abuse their positions by mistreating or giving unfair deals to the drivers, or by giving passengers a bad service experience,” he said.

The Serdang MP said it is crucial for the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to also regulate the commission rates which e-hailing companies can charge the drivers.

“Uber commission rate is 25% and Grab is 20% of the total fair. Many car drivers feel this is unfair to them. Let’s say my fare is RM20, with a 20% commision rate it will go down to RM16. So this obviously affects their income,” he said.

Ong added that a tribunal to hear the appeals of e-hailing drivers who have been unfairly banned or suspended by the e-hailing companies should also be set up.

“Currently there’s no avenue for the drivers to complain about such matters. Let’s say some negative feedback from a customer gets a driver banned, but the driver feels that the action is unfair to them. In such a case, the driver has no option to appeal the ban,” he said.

In a recent web survey conducted by DAP Research, it was found 75% of the drivers feel that the 20-25% commission rate charged by Uber and Grab is unfair and more than 60% of drivers want the government to regulate the amount of commission which the companies can charge.

Conducted in both Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese, the survey said the average monthly wage for full time drivers was estimated to be approximately RM3,200. While this may seem like a decent amount of earnings, it does not take into account the maintenance and fuel charges for the vehicles which can average more than RM1,000 a month.

The survey which gained 300 replies also found that 40% of Uber and Grab drivers are driving their vehicles on a full-time basis and another 53% are driving on a part-time basis, and not as a hobby but as a job.

“With an estimated 37,000 taxi drivers and an estimated 60,000 Uber and Grab drivers in the Klang Valley, this form of public transportation not only provides a crucial service to consumers but is also an important source of employment for the drivers themselves,” Ong said.