You know how Uber keeps making the news in other countries because of the shenanigans of its drivers? Just go to Google News and search for Uber and you’ll see. There have been cases of rape, kidnapping, assault, and others. In some cases, there have been Uber drivers accused of assault who have turned out to have done prison time for a felony but passed Uber’s background check anyway.

The Uber driver network in these countries have progressed further than what it is in Malaysia. From what we understand, all these cases involve private Uber drivers, which means they’re people like you and me trying to earn some cash with our own cars using the Uber platform.

Uber in Malaysia started off partnering with limo companies like Sunlight Limousine, TrupCo and Extreme Limousines & Tours. So the experience had a certain quality control to it. But now they’ve started taking in private drivers. You may have noticed Uber ads targeting Malaysians running on ad networks across the internet. When you run privateers on your fleet, you run the risk of things getting a little messy.

But of course, Uber supporters usually argue that there has been no such case in Malaysia. Except now there has been. It’s not something particularly serious, but the case is still worrying.


The case involves an actress/model named Daniella Sya who took an Uber ride on February 20. If you’ve used Uber before you would know that there’s an option to call or text the driver and we usually use this function to communicate our exact pickup point.

This communication method does not go through the Uber system – it uses the mobile phones of the driver and rider natively so the actual phone numbers are exchanged. The issue is on March 3, when the Uber driver sent a text to Daniella at 11 pm saying “Hi dear, :)”.

Apparently this is not the first time it has happened – Daniella says it has happened seven times before. Other Facebook users replied to her post on the social media platform sharing similiar experiences.

Since her phone number was revealed to the driver in the capacity of facilitating a pickup and not for ‘casual chat’, you can see why the Uber rider felt uncomfortable with this. This is obviously wrong, even by Uber’s own books, which is why the driver has since been suspended by Uber.

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I used to use Uber a lot, 24 times in the past to be exact. But my last Uber ride was on December 31 last year, when I was picked up by a car that did not have a number plate registered in the system. The part of the Uber app screen where the number plate would usually be displayed was blank. It made it hard for me to even identify the car picking me up – I had to resort to matching the face of the driver and making sure there was an Uber driver app running on an iPad in the car.

It was an E60 5-Series that felt rather worn and driven by a privateer. It didn’t feel like the same experience the rides operated by the limo companies like TrupCo and Extreme, it wasn’t as polished somehow. I felt like this was a shame – Uber is a useful app and feels a lot more convenient, safer and comfortable compared to our regular taxis.

As of today, this sector is still not regulated. Word through the grapevine is that the government was about to propose an act that would regulate this type of transportation service sometime at the end of last year but it didn’t happen – whether it was delayed or scrapped, we don’t know.

My advice to Uber and its competitors (like GrabCar) is to rethink the idea of private drivers on the system in Malaysia. To Uber users in Malaysia – just be a little extra wary. If all that drama with the drivers can happen everywhere else, it can happen here too.