All e-hailing drivers (Grab, etc.) are now subject to the same regulations and requirements as taxi drivers as of April 6, 2018. This is according to caretaker prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who spoke at the presentation of the 1Malaysia Taxi Assistance Card at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS).

“I realise that taxi drivers face many obstacles and challenges. I am aware that the income of taxi drivers has been somewhat affected by the existence of e-hailing services in our country. The e-hailing service has a demand but we have to do something through government intervention to protect the rice bowl of the taxi drivers,” he said in a report by Bernama

With this announcement, e-hailing drivers will need to undergo evaluations involving their background, traffic offences, health, training level and vehicle roadworthiness. Najib said the proposal for the new ruling was presented by then minister in the prime minister’s department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), and has been approved by the Cabinet on April 6.

The move has already been in the works since December last year, where discussions to replace/update the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license were made, following amendments made to the Land Public Transport Act 2010 and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board Act 1987.

“I instructed the enforcement through the gazetting which was done on the same day,” said Najib. He also stated that since individual taxi permits were issued to taxis drivers whose lease agreements ended, 2,533 taxi drivers had been given their individual licences, while 643 government cash grants worth RM3.215 million had been channelled to eligible recipients.

The government also approved a special grant of RM60 million to set up a Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) scheme to provide protection to taxi drivers, as revealed in Budget 2017. The scheme requires taxi drivers to make a minimum contribution of RM157, or RM13.08 a month.

“The scheme provides cash benefits to taxi drivers and their dependents in the event of unforeseen occurrences such as accidents by providing medical treatment, physical rehabilitation or vocational training,” Najib explained.

The new ruling is meant to promote fair competition among e-hailing and taxi drivers, with Najib saying the latter played an important role in highlighting Malaysia’s positive image to tourists as they were on the front line of the country’s tourism industry. “Be a taxi driver who is always friendly, honest and gives good service, then you can all be considered as Malaysia’s little ambassadors,” he said.