GOJEK may enter Malaysian market soon, says Youth Minister Syed Saddiq

Malaysian Youth Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (left) and GOJEK founder Nadiem Makarim. Photo: Syed Saddiq Facebook

Malaysian Youth Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said he intends to bring Indonesia-headquartered ride-hailing unicorn GOJEK to the country, in an effort to support the livelihood of local motorcyclist group.

In a one-minute video posted on Twitter, Malaysian Youth Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the Malaysian government’s one-off programme or initiative to build racing tracks in the country is insufficient to support the livelihood of those motorcyclists.

“They need to be defended, they need jobs – that’s a more pressing issue. That is why I met with the founder of GOJEK, Nadiem Makarim who have helped create jobs for over 2 million motorcyclists in Indonesia and hundred thousand more in Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam,” said the minister.

“Today, together we had met with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Transport Minister Anthony Loke. The presentation was well accepted, and we will finalise the discussion [of introducing GOJEK services in Malaysia] in the upcoming Cabinet meeting this Wednesday (August 21),” he added.

The news of introducing GOJEK to Malaysia is rather contradictory, considering the Malaysian government has banned the services of another ride-hailing startup Dego Ride, which also provides motorcycle taxi service like the Indonesian unicorn.

Last September, Loke had said that the government will not hesitate to take action against Dego Ride if it continues to operate illegally and that the ministry maintains its stance against motorcycle ride-hailing services mainly for safety reasons.

“We will never legalise Dego Ride in Malaysia because we disagree with any types of ride-sharing services that involve motorcycles. In Malaysia, there are too many accidents involving bikes that we just can’t take the risk. We will send enforcement officers to go after Dego Ride,” he was quoted as saying.

In a reply to a netizen’s question on why GOJEK was welcomed in Malaysia while Dego Ride services were shunned, Syed Saddiq said the Malaysian government will not only approve the operations of a single motorcycle taxi service provider.

“It’s not just one company. It has to be a conducive ecosystem, so it’s open for all. We cannot have a monopoly,” said the youngest cabinet minister in Malaysian history.

GOJEK had previously identified Malaysia as one of its next expansion destinations, as well as Myanmar and Cambodia, after launching its services in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.

The startup had made serious efforts to expand into the Philippines but has been met with restrictive local regulations. In March, it lost an appeal against the state’s decision on refusing to grant GOJEK a licence due to its failure to meet local ownership criteria.

Last month, it has secured an undisclosed investment from Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Thailand’s largest lender by assets as part of its ongoing Series F funding round. We reported GOJEK is targeting to close the round at over $3 billion while Grab is working on a mega $6.5 billion round.

The entry of GOJEK into Malaysia, the birthplace of its Singapore-headquartered rival Grab, could be happy news to Malaysian consumers, who may have been facing longer waiting time for their rides as all e-hailing drivers are now regulated by a set of new rules.

The new regulations required all e-hailing drivers to acquire a public service vehicle (PSV) licence. The enforcement was supposed to kick in on July 12, but the Transport Ministry has since granted all drivers another three months to get their PSV licenses.