Remember that charity event by Uber and Volkswagen Malaysia on Friday? It involved about 50 local celebrities volunteering to drive Volkswagens on the Uber Kuala Lumpur platform. The celebrity drivers picked a charity of their choice.

All funds collected from these celebrity drives will then be matched by both Uber and Volkswagen Malaysia, on a reciprocal basis depending on the number of trips made, and channeled to the charities. There will be a standard donation of RM20 for all celebrity drives, with a maximum of 30 minutes per trip (from start to finish) and a maximum of three passengers per trip.

The thing is, the legality of Uber’s service has always been in question in Malaysia. The Uber company itself runs a booking app and accepts payments on behalf of companies that operate the Uber cars, and it is the legality of the operators that are in question.

SPAD has said in the past that has no problems with Uber running in this country as long as Malaysian transportation laws are complied with. According to a SPAD spokesperson, vehicles registered under the hire-and-drive category are not allowed to be used for taxi or limousine services, and drivers without a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driving licence are not allowed to offer such services under the Land Public Transport Act 2010 and Road Transport Act 1987.

From what we understand, the issue with Uber’s fleet currently is not so much the drivers but the cars. The Uber drivers have PSV licenses. But some hire-and-drive cars are being run as Uber cars, which would be in default of the mentioned acts. Our source – a rental car company operator and Uber Partner – tells us that a meeting between Uber and SPAD will happen this month, with hire-and-drive vehicles expected to be allowed to run under the Uber service in the near future.

But the problem with this Uber-Volkswagen Malaysia campaign is that while the intention is nobel, the mechanics do not comply with the laws. This is unless somehow the Volkswagen fleet running that day are all registered as limos, and every celebrity that drove has a PSV license. In addition, if one of the charity drive cars were to somehow get into an accident, there would be issues with claims because the cars were involved in ferrying fare-paying passengers, even though the fare was to be channeled to charities.

SPAD did not really kick up a big fuss over this, but decided to instead issue a ‘gentle reminder’ that all parties in the future are advised to check with SPAD over the legality of the campaign’s mechanics if it involves the use of land transport. A good PR move on their part, but you have to wonder what’s their plan if the rules continue to be flaunted in the future.

You can read the statement below.