Khairy: Nothing illegal about games partnership with Grab

Khairy Jamaluddin (left) during the announcement of the sponsorship deal between Grab and the organisers of the KL SEA Games on May 23. ― Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 ― The Youth and Sports Ministry has refuted claims Grab is illegal despite the authorities having yet to regulate ride sharing services.

“No, it is not illegal,” said its minister Khairy Jamaluddin, responding to criticism following a sponsorship deal between Grab and the organisers of the 2017 KL SEA Games.

Big Blue Taxi Facilities (BBTF) Sdn Bhd adviser Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail had said Grab had yet to be legalised by the government.

Shamsubahrin was baffled as to how the company was recently named as the official ride hailing partner for the games, to be held from August 19 to 30.

Ride sharing services hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons recently, with the latest being a Uber driver robbing his passenger at knife-point last week.

“With regards to the recent incident, corrective measures have been announced by the particular company. We have teamed up with another ride hailing company,” Khairy said.

“Notwithstanding that, I’m sure our partners at Grab will ensure such things will not happen. It will be embarrassing for them if it happens.”

On the scrutiny of drivers, Khairy said: “That’s a question that needs to be asked in terms of regulation. The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) is the correct authority to look into such matters.

“Nancy (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri) is best suited to answer these questions.”

Khairy said Grab services were being used and would likely be used during the SEA Games.

“It’s essential for us to team up with the proper authorities and help them in correcting Grab drivers, promoting proper tools and ensuring they do proper screening of their drivers before the games,” he said.

He added that the “screening process must be stricter”.

Grab sealed its role as the gold sponsor, being the Official Ride Hailing Partner for the 29th edition of the SEA Games and the 9th Asean Para Games.

The deal sees an estimated sponsorship value of RM6 million, including cash, goods and services besides supporting the publicity of the games through Grab’s digital platform.

But the announcement and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Grab Malaysia and the games organiser on May 23, which was witnessed by Khairy, did not go down well with certain quarters.

“How can Khairy condone such an illegal activity, especially when the service has not been approved by the government?” asked Shamsubahrin.

He said the lack of regulation and enforcement on ride hailing services posed a serious risk to tourists and customers during the multi-sports event.

Shamsubahrin asked who would take ownership of mishaps that could happen.

“By allowing Grab to operate, the ministry is placing visitors, tourists and sportsmen in a risky situation,” he said.

“Don’t be a sell-out and place the lives of others at risk just for money.”

However, he said if such services were approved by the government before the start of the games, his company would give its full cooperation.

“Simply put, ride hailing services are illegal and should not be used during the games,” he said.

“If the services are legalised and proper regulations and checks are in place, then we will assist the government during the event.”

On another note, Shamsubahrin said BBTF, a consortium managing taxis since 2009, is working with SPAD in conceptualising an electronic ticketing system called Big Blue e-Ticket.

The project, which started earlier this year, would not just involve a ticketing system but include a revamp of taxis services and facilities in the city.

“We are planning to refurbish old taxi stands. They would double up as information centre for travellers,” he said.

The ticketing system would only apply to those registered with the consortium as it aimed to eventually manage the entire taxi operations in the capital.

Shamsubahrin said the system would also scrutinise drivers, their financial and criminal backgrounds, vehicle condition and even attire.

“We don’t want cabbies looking like rock stars, with long hair and dressed shabbily, and haggle fares with customers,” he said.

“I’m prepared to clean up the industry … to rid such bad apples and to gain the trust of the people again.”

He said there were about 2,000 taxis registered with the consortium and  about 200,000 taxis on the roads nationwide.