E-hailing services now legal in Malaysia

E-hailing services have been legalised in Malaysia. But it comes with conditions for the operators, who now need to have an "intermediation business licence" issued by a regulatory body.

The regulatory bodies will be the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) in peninĀ­sular Malaysia and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) in Sabah and Sarawak.

The legalisation of e-hailing services come after amendments to the Land Public TransĀ­port Act 2010 and Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) Act 1987 were passed in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The amendments include defining e-hailing vehicles as public services vehicles with a minimum seating capacity of four persons and not more than 11 people, including the driver, for any journey for single or separate fares, with a booking made through a mobile app.

Under Section 26A(1) of the CVLB Act, e-hailing service operators must have an intermediation business licence to operate, and comply with the conditions set under the Act.

These conditions include the type of service provided, measures to safeguard the safety and security of passengers, and the standard of performance that e-hailing companies have to comply with.

Operators applying for the licence must pay a fee and provide information on their financial status to prove their ability to operate and maintain the intermediation business.

The business licences are renewable but operators cannot transfer or reassign them, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

The amendments also make it an offence for any person to assault, hinder or obstruct those involved in e-hailing services.

Those convicted are liable to a fine of RM1,000 (S$317.9), jail not exceeding three months or both upon conviction.

Nancy, who oversees SPAD, said the Taxi Industry Transformation Plan and the amendments would benefit taxi drivers, consumers and e-hailing drivers.

"Allegations that the amendments are to protect the interests of huge e-hailing corporations are baseless since the results of studies and stakeholder consultations have ensured that everyone will benefit," she said when winding up the debate on points raised with her ministry.

Nancy also said there would be no change to the current regulations for taxi drivers, as suggested by some MPs, to help them compete with e-hailing services.

"Periodic checks on vehicles are also necessary to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and any other party.

"After this, taxi drivers need only go for car inspections once a year compared with the previous twice yearly," she said, adding that vehicles less than three years old were exempted from periodic inspection.

Mandatory health screenings and insurance policies are also required by law for both taxis and e-hailing providers.

Nancy said the Government hoped to get the ball rolling with e-hailing providers within a year of the gazetting of the amendments.