PETALING JAYA: The Youth and Sports Minister has met with Dego Ride chief executive officer Nabil Feisal Bamadhaj, after snubbing the Johor-based motorcycle taxi company for Indonesia's Gojek in a previous meeting with the Prime Minister and the Transport Minister.
Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman tweeted a photo of himself with Nabil in his office on Wednesday (Aug 28).
“Before they were banned by the previous government, Dego successfully hired 1,500 mat motor (motorcycle riders). Salary RM1,500-RM3,500.
“[About] 85% of the mat motors hired were youths, ” he posted, adding that Dego Ride attracted 60,000 users within three months of launching its operations.
Dego Ride was the first company to launch a motorcycle taxi service in Malaysia, in late 2016, but was quickly declared illegal by the Barisan Nasional-led Transport Ministry in January 2017 citing safety concerns.
However, Pakatan Harapan’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke upheld the decision in September 2018, saying that motorcycle taxi services would never be legalised due to high motorcycle accident rates.
Now, motorcycle-based e-hailing service is set to become a new industry in Malaysia, after Syed Saddiq's involvement in getting the Cabinet's approval to legalise the service.
The young minister, on a mission to fulfil the Pakatan election promise of creating one million job opportunities, had arranged a meeting between Gojek founder Nadiem Makarim, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Loke on Aug 19.
Syed Saddiq's pitch was to create youth employment through motorcycle taxi services.
The meeting drew both applause and condemnation.
While some welcomed the move, others criticised the Muar MP for endorsing a foreign company rather than supporting the homegrown startup Dego Ride.
In response to criticisms, Syed Saddiq said Gojek would not monopolise the industry as the government would open up the market to allow competition.
“This is not just for Gojek. We forgot that we have one of the most talented Malaysians who ran Dego Ride in Johor, which employed thousands of motorists, ” Syed Saddiq said a day after the Gojek meeting amid the backlash.
The news has already ruffled feathers with the taxi industry in Malaysia.
Big Blue Taxi Services founder Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail allegedly made a statement deemed derogatory of Gojek riders and Indonesia in a video clip that went viral in that country recently.
Gojek rider-partners in Indonesia had threatened to protest the statement at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.
Gojek began in 2010 as a motorcycle ride-hailing call centre in Indonesia, and has launched in Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand as part of its South-East Asia expansion plan.
It also plans to expand to Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Philippines.