Frankly Speaking: A good idea but don’t stop there

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on August 26, 2019 - September 01, 2019.
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Last week, the Cabinet decided in principle to allow Indonesian motorcycle-sharing service Go-Jek to operate in Malaysia. The government will study what regulations need to be put in place and open the segment to all players to promote fair competition.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had backed the idea as a way to provide more income avenues for youths.

To be fair, there is merit in the idea. Many Malaysians are finding economic opportunities in the car-hailing service industry as well as the delivery services it has spawned.

Having a motorcycle-sharing segment opens doors for the lower-income groups who may not have access to a car, allowing them to participate in the gig economy and providing more avenues to benefit from the country’s economic growth.

However, it is important that the implementation is properly done. Recall that in 2017, the Transport Ministry banned a homegrown motorcycle-sharing service due to safety concerns.  Such concerns have to be addressed to ensure the safety of riders,  passengers and other road users.

In the larger picture, it is imperative to build further on this move. For sure, providing motorcycle-sharing services can make a substantial difference to the people affected. But there should be more economic opportunities for youths and the government should lead the way. The aspiration should be to further offer them paths of economic progression so that they can continuously improve their quality of life.

The logical follow-through is to improve access to upskilling programmes and human capital development targeting the lower-income group. Clear policies and concrete actions are needed. That way, they will eventually be able to move on to higher-value occupations. If that is achieved, the nation benefits in the end.

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