The question needs to be asked, especially in lieu of the new notice from the Road Transport Department (JPJ) that e-hailing drivers are now no longer allowed to pick up passengers at airports.
This was announced yesterday after a Grab driver was issued a summons for picking up a passenger at Penang International Airport.
However, with this happening in Penang, will it just be limited to Grab?
After all, in the Penang state, MBI Group does own an e-hailing firm there called Mula. For those not in the know, MBI Group was red flagged by Bank Negara Malaysia last year. Is this e-hailing service banned as well?
Similarly, do we need to talk about banning MyCar from KLIA as well? Also, didn’t the government under the MOT launch a new ride hailing app for taxis and limos as well? Will this e-hailing app be banned since it does not involve those already in queue at the airports?
There are two ways to look at this issue. The first, of course, is going all Ayn Rand libertarian Atlas Shrugged, and how this is hindering people from running a business and offering the cheapest fare.
The second, the direct opposite, is to look at what is considered fair practice, fair fares, for both drivers and passengers.
There is, of course, a third event where it is directly communist and how everyone can either take an airport taxi or limousine, or go for only the government owned ride share so that government gets the income directly.
All three situations have their ups and downs.
But more importantly, I would look at this the same way the government imposed the smoking ban. It started out easily at indoor areas, before suddenly heading to national parks and even open air eateries and even roadside stalls.
That said, hopefully the government will not go about limiting e-hailing cars from picking up passengers anywhere else, such as public transport hubs, or even hotels – because this would then show that the government is putting in measures to not protect consumers, but to protect taxis.