SPAD gives thumbs down to Uber

01 Jul 2015 / 11:46 H.

    KUALA LUMPUR: The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has shot down the idea that the ride-sharing app Uber could be legalised soon to be part of the public transport service in Malaysia.

    In an exclusive interview with theSun, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar declared that the current market does not need a new player, especially in the Klang Valley, Johor Baru and Penang.
    “They (Uber) are trying to replace the legitimate taxis. Our market size is not big enough. Uber is a matchmaker and it utilises all kinds of cars including private vehicles. Uber is offering the kind of services that we cannot legalise,” he said.
    Last Thursday, theSun reported that the San Francisco-based car-sharing company was continuing discussions with SPAD in its attempt to legalise services.
    Southeast Asia (SEA) Uber Technologies Strategic Planning Head and General Manager Chan Park had claimed that talks were already underway with the commission, among other parties, to make its presence in Penang and other cities.
    Stating that Uber's concept has caused unhappiness among cabbies in the country, Syed Hamid said the current business concept by the controversial car-sharing app couldn't fit into the country's public transport landscape and regulations.
    He stressed that there's nothing wrong with a mobile app offering a ride service, “as long as it facilitates vehicles with a valid permit and the driver has a valid licence”.
    SPAD enforcement head Datuk Paduka Che Hasni Che Ahmad stated that Uber does not own any vehicle as it only hires a local firm to source cars from car rental or leasing firms to cater for the bookings.
    “At the same time, the car rental companies supply the drivers,” he said. ‎“Uber does not deal directly with car rental companies because it acts as a middleman."
    In other words, Che Hasni said, Uber is merely a "matchmaker" by offering chauffeuring services via an app, rather than as a public transport firm.
    In hindsight Syed Hamid also stressed that Uber's insistence on cashless payment or credit card for passengers does not benefit the country.
    “The money (fare paid) goes out of the country while the country does not benefit anything from that. There is no spin-off from their business operation, they just operate as they wish."‎
    Asked what it would take for Uber to be legalised in Malaysia, Syed Hamid said: “Perhaps, they (Uber) can buy a taxi company here and operate as a legal transport company.”
    “The question of legalising Uber does not apply at all. Everywhere they go, there's a problem. Uber creates problem in many countries. Just look at yesterday's news,” he said, in reference to the arrest of Uber top executives by French authorities for running an illegal taxi company reported on June 29.
    As a mark of endorsement, Syed Hamid provided a glowing review of the local mobile app providers' capabilities and hoped more Malaysians would utilise them to book taxis.
    “Our local boys can handle it. My children use Taxi Monger and MyTeksi frequently. I was told, the local apps are very efficient. We should support them instead of talking about Uber,” he added.

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