Calls to ban illegal e-hailing app

PETALING JAYA: Following a crackdown on an illegal e-hailing operator and its drivers in Penang, authorities are being urged to ban its app and to go after the firm.

Apparently, drivers and passengers can still download and use the app despite its illegal status.

Malaysia E-hailing Drivers Association (Mehda) president Daryl Chong said drivers who remained adamant could be regarded as providing illegal transport service or kereta sapu, which is an offence.

He said passengers using the app to hail rides put their safety at risk because the status of the driver and car could not be verified and they were not covered by insurance.

“More complications will arise if an accident were to happen, ” Chong added yesterday.

Last Wednesday, the firm, which had been operating in Penang for a few months, came under the spotlight when the Road Transport Department (JPJ) held 11 of its drivers and impounded their cars.

The operation was launched after authorities received complaints from Mehda that the drivers were using an illegal e-hailing app.

State JPJ director Adenan Md Isa said the company failed to register with the Public Land Transport Agency (APAD) and its drivers had no E-Hailing Vehicle Permits (EVP).

The drivers claimed the illegal app was better because of the low charges, giving them better profits.

Adenan also said the company had international operations in 31 countries offering similar services.

It is learnt that the company hired several Malaysians to recruit drivers nationwide last year.

Chong noted the company did not have a Business Mediation Licence or Lesen Perniagaan Pengantaraan (LPP), which is required for all e-hailing operators in Malaysia.

“Despite being illegal, the company allowed e-hailing drivers to use the app to ferry passengers even though it did not have a valid EVP.

“This is illegal under the law and must be dealt with, ” he said, adding that other than Penang, the company was also operating in the Klang Valley and Johor Baru.

“The app should be banned until the company fulfils requirements to operate in Malaysia, ” he said.

MCA Civil Society Movement Bureau chief Ng Kian Nam lauded the crackdown and also called on the authorities to go after the firm.

“Although the service provider may not have a company or representative in Malaysia, we can still go through legal means and deal with its headquarters and advise it to follow Malaysian laws, ” he said.

Ng, who is also the spokesman of the Campaign to Protect the Rights of E-Hailing Drivers, also called for leniency on the drivers who were held as their livelihood was badly affected by the movement control order period.

MyCar founder and director Mohd Noah Maideen called on the authorities to ban foreign e-hailing companies because they failed to meet APAD’s requirements.

“Firm action must be taken against such illegal services because they affect our industry and drivers’ income, ” he said in a statement.

When contacted, Bar Council Information Technology and Cyber Laws Committee deputy chairman Foong Cheng Leong said operators without an LPP could be charged in court and fined or jailed, or both.

Although foreign entities are not subject to local laws, he said Malaysia could still take action by banning the app.

“The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s may take action by, among others, requesting Google and Apple to ban the app in their app store, ” he said.

He said it was similar to the ban imposed on a digital game distribution platform in September 2017 after a game had violated religious and racial unity laws.

Foong also noted that Malaysians who worked for the company could also be arrested.

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