Malaysian taxis, the less said the better. But the situation could improve, if a current bid to revamp the country’s taxi system succeeds. The Sun reports that 1,000 individual taxi licences for new, specially-fitted cabs will be given out, as announced by PM Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak on Sunday (March 24), where the first 200 licences were given out.

“We need a taxi service that tourists can feel comfortable with, and where the drivers are polite and honest… this will raise the nation’s image,” he said at the event, adding that more individual licences can be given out, provided there is bai’ah (an oath of allegiance) between the government and taxi drivers.

“That is why in a small way, today, we need to create bai’ah among us. The BN government can give more individual licences, but in addition, the taxi drivers need to promise the government to be polite, honest and upstanding taxi drivers, who will not forget the governments’ goodwill when the time comes,” he added.

The 1,000 new licences, which will be given out in stages, will be given only for the purchase of a specially-modified, NGV-equipped Proton Exora. The 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB) will be giving a grant of RM5,000 for each unit of the Exora to make it more affordable for the cabbies.

At the same event, Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar clarified that the 1,000 licences is not in addition to some 30,000 taxis licenses already in existence. “The licences are previously owned by taxi companies, which are giving up these licences as part of their corporate social responsibility,” he said. The new licences are non-transferable, but can be shared with a second driver.

As you can imagine, the Exora cabs, which will come with credit card readers and tracking/monitoring devices, will be much more comfortable to ride in compared to the crummy old Sagas we’re used to. However, there’s still the matter of (some) unscrupulous taxi drivers to deal with. Changing cars is easier than changing attitudes.