Grab put on watchlist for anti-competition practices

Grab would be charged under the Competition Act 2010 if the merger, results in a monopoly, says minister

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Malaysia has placed e-hailing operator Grab under anti-competition watchlist, after Uber Technologies Inc sold its South-East Asian operations in a deal which raises concerns of the homegrown app’s monopoly of the transport fetching service.

Singapore’s Competition Commission had launched a probe into Uber’s offloading of its operation in the region to the US$6 billion (RM23.16 billion) valued Grab, as the deal may lessen competition on the ride-hailing market.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (picture) said Grab would be charged under the Competition Act 2010 if the acquisition, which involved the return of a 27.5% stake in Grab to Uber, results in a monopoly.

“For now, the government is closely monitoring the situation, she told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Nancy said Grab’s monopoly will dampen the government’s efforts to encourage existing taxi drivers to convert into e-hailing system.

“I have had a discussion with Grab on March 26 to hear from them, and they have guaranteed us that there will not be any form of price hike or unfair pricing,” she said, responding to a query from Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.

“If pricing discrimination happens, I have stressed to Grab that we will take action through the Competition Act 2010, by collaborating with the Malaysia Competition Commission,” she said.

Uber’s exit from the region may have left a void, but there are more than 20 other ride-hailing applications operating in the country.

“This is also an opportunity for existing taxi drivers to serve their customers via various platforms.”

The minister said the merger, however, did not change the government’s working relationship with Grab in converting over 67,000 conventional taxi drivers nationwide to e-hailing platforms.

Nearly 14,000 taxi drivers have now either partially or fully migrated to e-hailing platforms, and the government would continue working with Grab to convince more to do the same.

“This is in the interest of the taxi industry, which has been around for a long time. At the same time, Grab needs our support, and we are there to assist them as well,” Nancy said.

Nancy said the government will consider setting up a tribunal to address and resolve disputes between e-hailing companies and drivers.

The minister said a proposal by Nurul Izzah to set up such a tribunal will be taken into serious consideration by authorities.

She said currently the Land Public Transport Commission has a Complaint Management Department that manages all complaints and related issues.

On a supplementary question from Sepanggar MP Datuk Jumat Idris on the status of e-hailing operations in Sabah, Nancy said there are 4,000 active Uber drivers in the state.

The drivers are serving approximately 150,000 passengers mainly in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan.