The company has a general rule where any criminal record invalidates the candidacy of a person
By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By TMR
Ride-Hailing service provider Grab Malaysia has not detected anyone driving under its banner with criminal records.
Its country head Sean Goh said public safety is their No 1 priority, and the company has been in contact with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) in response to reports that were published last week.
SPAD had previously identified some 1,000 ride-hailing drivers with criminal records after a screening process was carried out with details from local authorities like the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and the Road Transport Department (JPJ).
Goh said there is “a good chance” that none of Grab’s drivers are on the list of the 1,000 offenders, as the company has its own security checks before a driver is hired.
“For example, we conduct identity checks to ensure the person applying is the correct driver, and we also do car checks to ensure the vehicles are safe.
“Grab works with third-party agencies and they have not failed us so far, so I have the utmost confidence in them,” he said.
Goh said Grab’s checks might not be as detailed as SPAD’s, but the two parties have been in constant contact to build a process where a speedier and more frequent access to public records would be available.
The suggestion has been put through to SPAD, although they have been supportive and diligent in conducting checks so far.
Out of the 300,000 existing e-hailing drivers in the country, SPAD had screened 74,471 names as part of its amendment to legalise the public transport sector.
Goh said while criminal record is not the red line Grab will cross, no details have been given by SPAD or other authorities just yet.
“We will have the names hopefully soon; we don’t know when, but we are hoping as soon as possible,” he said to The Malaysian Reserve at an event in Kuala Lumpur recently.
According to Goh, Grab has a general rule where any criminal record invalidates the candidacy of a person, and it has been practised for years.
“I’m not saying it has happened, but if a person applying to be a driver underwent our routine safety checks and was clean, but somehow developed a criminal record after that, they may be part of that list now. This is where we want to work together with the police and SPAD,” he said.
Goh said they also look at civil records of potential drivers in the security screening.
“If a dispute filed does not touch a criminal or safety issue, then we are able to disregard it,” he said.
Goh said immediate action will be taken against any driver found with a criminal record, regardless of previous security checks with the company.
As safety and security are the main priorities among ride-hailing companies, Goh said Grab is updating its system that would also allow a user to appoint an emergency contact.
As such, the contact person will simultaneously be contacted along with other emergency services.
Goh said it is being done in stages as data is difficult to be retrieved from PDRM for now. For the time being, he encourages users to be vigilant.
“Beyond the basic safety checks, our users are in good hands, we believe. Use the safety emergency button or share the ride function, so family or friends are aware of where you are at all times,” he said.
Responding to reports of the emergency buttons being used more widely, Goh said Grab does not actually have records of it as any safety call goes straight to the emergency response unit.
“Once the button is triggered, it is basically out of our hands and the authorities are then in charge, without us knowing. Our drivers and users generally tend to follow up with us. Once we are aware, steps are taken by our side,” he said.
Goh noted that this is a requirement by SPAD and it includes calls from all ride-hailing services in the country.
Meanwhile, rival Uber also expressed concerns over the safety of its drivers, as well as riders, as a priority.
An Uber spokesperson said technology has come a long way in improving safety for trips taken, including before, during and after the ride ends.
“We also partner closely SPAD, JPJ, PDRM, MIROS (Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research) and other relevant stakeholders for safer, more reliable transportation for all Malaysians. Interested driver-partners also go through a background screening facilitated by a third-party agency licensed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, before they are allowed to go onto the app,” Uber said in a statement.
Uber added that action is taken and will be taken on any driver or partner that contravene the groups’ community guidelines.