Govt: EU court ruling won’t change things for Uber, Grab in Malaysia

By Ida Lim
Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri says that recent legal amendments in Malaysia require e-hailing service providers to abide by the government's rules, adding that taxi drivers and e-hailing drivers will have to follow the same set of rules. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 ― The recent European Union (EU) court ruling that Uber should be regulated like taxi operators would not affect the Malaysian government's existing plans of regulating e-hailing services like Uber and Grab.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, whose portfolio covers public transport regulatory bodies, said the “EU ruling has no effect on our plan on e-hailing as we treat them as public transport services”.

She said that recent legal amendments in Malaysia require e-hailing service providers to abide by the government's rules, adding that taxi drivers and e-hailing drivers will have to follow the same set of rules.

“We want them to compete on the same level playing field as this is the new business model. We always made it clear that all rules are applicable and to be complied by both taxis and e-hailing partner drivers.

“We have also instructed apps providers especially Uber and Grab to give priority to conventional taxis to be on their e-hailing platform as we feel that, given the right training, the transformed taxi drivers will be the most loyal passenger service providers in Malaysia,” she told Malay Mail when contacted.

Nancy oversees both the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB), which respectively regulates public transport in Peninsular Malaysia, and in Sabah and Sarawak.

Last Wednesday, the EU's top court ― European Court of Justice ― ruled that Uber's service in connecting individuals to non-professional drivers is a transport service and should be regulated as such, instead of being treated as merely an app.

In a separate response, SPAD confirmed that the EU court's ruling “would not affect SPAD's plans nor the plans of Sabah and Sarawak's CVLB for e-hailing services in Malaysia”.

“Each country is independent in making its own laws but we can always compare and learn from other countries' experience,” it told Malay Mail when contacted.

“The Malaysian Government, through the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara has approved the e-hailing service as a class of public service vehicles (PSV). E-hailing operator such as Uber and Grab are deemed as an intermediation business, which means business that facilitates arrangements, reservations or transactions for the provision of land public transport services, while other classes of PSV operators directly owns or operates 1 or more PSV,” it said.

The federal government had introduced amendments to the Land Public Transport Act and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board Act, changes which SPAD says “will give SPAD and CVLB the authority to regulate the industry”.

“Under this proposed regulation, e-hailing services will be imposed with certain regulations that are similar to the taxi industry.

“For instance, e-hailing service operators will be required to register with SSM and obtain a license from S.P.A.D. to operate, while e-hailing drivers will need to obtain a Driver’s Card from S.P.A.D., undergo training and background screening,” it said, referring to the Companies Commission of Malaysia by its Malay initials.

The amendments also require e-hailing drivers to undergo medical checks, vehicle inspections and have insurance coverage.

The Dewan Rakyat had on July 27 passed the amendments to both the Land Public Transport Act and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board Act, while the Dewan Negara had on August 15 passed these legal changes.

These amendments have yet to come into effect as they have not been gazetted.

SPAD today told Malay Mail that the amendments to the two laws are “targeted to take effect in the first quarter of 2018”.

On July 27, Nancy had said that Malaysia is the first country to regulate e-hailing services, noting however that e-hailing service operators will be given a one-year grace period to comply with the requirements.