By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
The government is amending the eligibility requirements for the application of the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license to allow differently abled persons (OKU) to become e-hailing drivers.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke (picture) said under the previous regulations, OKU drivers were not allowed to do so but his ministry is committed to changing the requirements.
He added that the process to amend the current PSV regulations, which are expected to be ready by May, would allow some 300 to 400 OKU drivers to continue driving for e-hailing firms.
“It is our view that if they are able and independent, why should we stop them from driving? That’s why we want to amend it if it proves to be an unreasonable law.
“All the drivers need is a medical verification from hospitals stating they are fit to drive. There will be an additional part on the application form for PSV licence,” he told reporters at the launch of Grab’s new facial recognition technology in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Loke said the details are still being finalised but OKU drivers will be given priority between May and the current deadline, which is July 12, to apply for the licence and attend training.
“We hope to have everything in place by then. It is important that we are progressive and include them,” he added.
Selangor Deaf Youth Association chairman Haymasuthan Periasamy said he was relieved to hear the announcement by Loke.
“This announcement gives us a wider opportunity to be able to earn a living. We also are tax-paying citizens and help to develop the nation’s economy,” he said.
Haymasuthan said prior to this, his application was rejected as he is deaf.
“We are able to work and so far have not had any incidents so there should not be an objection for us to drive. This does not only cover the deaf society but all other categories as well. This is definitely good news for all of us,” he said.
He credited Grab Malaysia for never being discriminatory against them and said they have always been treated equally.
Grab Malaysia said there are currently some 300 OKU drivers on its platform, who have been driving for years with no incident.
Meanwhile, Grab Malaysia has rolled out its latest feature, a facial recognition technology that allows the e-hailing giant to keep records of passengers as part of its effort to protect the drivers.
The feature will be via a live selfie and is part of a long-term safety commitment in bringing preventable incidents on its platform down to zero through technology innovations.
Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh said the feature was introduced at the beginning of this year for all new users as well as dormant users.
“Passenger-related crimes had dropped 30% from when it was trialed. We will be rolling out the feature for existing users in phases but there is no set timeline,” he told reporters at the launch yesterday.
Goh said the technology is built into Grab’s app to ensure the picture taken is an actual live human face and is also able to detect and reject inappropriate photos.