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Taxi and app-based ride hailing services are set for a revamp in Malaysia by the end of this year. Reported by The Sun, Malaysia’s “e-hailing” model is dubbed as the first of its kind in the world, and will create a level playing field between Uber/Grab drivers and conventional cabbies for efficient and well-priced services. This also means that Uber/Grab would be legalised, and regulated.

This follows an endorsement by the Special Economic Committee (SEC) chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak. A proposal regarding the matter was submitted by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to SEC last month and it included details to revive and transform the conventional taxi industry. The “e-hailing” proposal is expected to be presented to the Cabinet for the final green light later this month.

The Sun says that among the proposals for the taxi industry is a profit-sharing concept. This guaranteed percentage of the day’s takings for cab drivers is similar to the business model practised by Jakarta’s Blue Bird Taxi Company and the Dubai Taxi Corporation, among other taxi companies worldwide. SPAD will also introduce an Uber-style app for taxis.

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For Uber/Grab drivers, it won’t be as hassle-free as today. “A person offering his or her private vehicle as taxi service must obtain a public service vehicle (PSV) licence and register with SPAD for vetting purposes. Private cars used as taxis will be required to undergo annual inspections with Puspakom along with enhanced insurance coverage just like taxis,” a government insider told the free daily.

“Private cars with ASEAN NCAP ratings will be given priority in addition to the safety specifications set by the Road Transport Department,” the source added.

The report points out that the “e-hailing” initiative will see around 130,000 Uber and Grab drivers (some part-time) co-exist and compete with 67,000 active taxi drivers throughout the country, including 36,000 cabbies in the Klang Valley. The government also plans to subject Uber (the company) to taxes. “For a while, Uber passengers’ credit card transactions have seen massive flow of the ringgit out of the country,” the insider said. The app-based services have been very popular with urbanites.

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SPAD CEO Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah confirmed to The Sun that its presentation received positive response from the SEC. “Now we are in the midst of fine tuning the paper to Cabinet in the next few weeks,” he said.

Commission chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said should the Cabinet give the green light, “several laws need to be amended such as the Land Public Transport Act 2010, Road Transport Act 1987 and Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.” The legislation process may take place this month or October in Parliament, and SPAD is currently working with the Transport Ministry and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, he added.

“If everything goes well, a new dawn of taxi industry may begin end of the year,” Syed Hamid declared.