It will also improve last-mile connectivity for those who use public transport to commute to work, writes Lynn Teo.
The proposal to bring the motorcycle ride-hailing service Gojek to Malaysia has sparked much debate.
I support this policy move – but only if there is proper enforcement – for several reasons.
It will provide jobs. These may not be the ‘decent’ jobs we hope for. Still, it would be an honest way to earn a living for many who may only have completed secondary school.
Ministry of Education statistics revealed some 380,000 students registered for the SPM exams in 2017. Assuming 25% of them move on to higher education, we would have 285,000 million other young people leaving school every year. They need to find a way to earn their keep.
The bottom 40% of the population earn less than RM3,000 per month. In a country of 32 million where 70% are aged above 15, it would mean about 9 million adults fall in the bottom 40%.
By right, the factories and plantations could have recruited some of them. But due to the low wages offered and the difficult nature of the work, many of these companies turn to foreign labour instead.
So how do we feed such a large number of local school leavers every year?
A job in hand means money in the pocket, and stomachs will not go hungry. Hungry stomachs make it easier for people to become more distraught. This in turn could make them more vulnerable to incitement by divisive ethnic and religious rhetoric.
If they all had jobs, our young citizens would learn to follow rules. They would learn real-life responsibilities and time management. They would pick up a host of other life skills such as managing an income and balancing expenses. Their sense of self-esteem would rise.
With a job to handle, many will have less time to be idle – for “idleness to the human mind is like rust to iron”. Can we then hope for more productive citizens and less social problems among the young?
The money earned and spent on daily necessities would help drive the economy. We sorely need more internal stimulus for the economy. Analysts have predicted a high possibility of a technical recession in 2020 due to economic uncertainties and the China-US trade war.
Think also of the hundreds of thousands who reach the age of 17 and then secure driving licences. Many of them will drive, worsening already congested roads every year.
That aside, Gojek will vastly improve last-mile connectivity. This will be a relief for those who are willing to use public transport or find the time lost in traffic jams intolerable.
Malaysia is still a developing nation. The middle class can afford to own motor vehicles or use Grab. But for many of the bottom 40% – school leavers, retail assistants, service sector workers, clerical staff, factory workers and blue collar workers – owning a car is not an option.
The safety aspects and the unruly behaviour of some motorcyclists can be sorted out through proper implementation and enforcement.
Let us give the Gojek proposal a chance to see the light of day. At the very least, it shows the government is trying to tackle some of the real issues affecting the people.
The proposal targets those more in need, such as those in the bottom 40% struggling to survive in urban areas. Many of them are from rural areas and migrated to towns due to a lack of jobs around their rural homes.
Lynn Teo is a believer of citizens’ participation for the common good. A grandmother, she is as an active member of Rise of Sarawak Efforts (Rose), an advocacy group in Sarawak upholding democracy through citizens’ participation in the democratic process.