(File pix) The passing of the Land Public Transport Bill will now allow the government to regulate e-hailing companies such as Uber and Grab.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Land Public Transport (Amendment) Bill 2017 and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (Amendment) Bill 2017 were among three bills that were passed today at the upper house.

The passing of the Land Public Transport Bill will now allow the government to regulate e-hailing companies such as Uber and Grab.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said e-hailing companies will have to submit drivers’ identification to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to facilitate criminal checks to be carried out before these drivers are hired.

“This applies to even temporary Uber and Grab partners. Potential drivers will be screened for the safety of passengers.

“This bill will make it compulsory for e-hailing companies to have an intermediation business license and comply with conditions set by the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board.

“These conditions include the type of service provided, measures to ensure the safety and security of passengers, and the standard of performance with which e-hailing companies must comply,” she said during the winding-up debate.

Concerns over double standards between conventional taxi drivers and e-hailing drivers can now be put to rest as both categories would have to undergo health and vehicle checks, carry insurance and commercial driving cards.

“Taxi drivers will need to undergo checks once a year instead of the present requirement of every six months. This will reduce a taxi drivers’ expenditure cost.

“This applies for e-hailing drivers. SPAD will also keep their records in a data bank for reference,” she said.

She also said e-hailing drivers are only allowed to operate in the country while taxi drivers can take passengers to Singapore and Thailand due to a government-to-government agreement between Malaysia and the two neighbouring countries.

The bill also seeks to insert the definition of ‘e-hailing’ as a motor vehicle with a seating capacity of four people and not more than 11 people, including the driver.

E-hailing in the bill is defined as a motor vehicle used for the carriage of person(s) on any journey in consideration of a single or separate fares for each of them, in which the arrangement, booking or transaction, and the fare for such journey, are facilitated through an electronic mobile application.

Meanwhile, the passing of the Access to Biological Resources and Benefit Sharing Bill 2017 tabled by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar aims to regulate access to the country's biological diversity and natural resources while also to enhance existing provisions and laws on forests, wildlife, fisheries and the international trade of endangered species.

This bill will also protect researches on local biodiversity products from being patented by other countries.

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