Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 31st of March, 2021

Classify GRAB / Ehailing / TAXI Drivers as Economic Frontliners and rope them in to ferry elderly passengers to COVID19 Vaccination Centers during Phase 2 of the Vaccine Rollout

Last Saturday, on the 27th of March, at around 4 pm, when the free COVID19 testing activity organized by the Selangor Task Force on COVID19 (STFC) in Taman Bukit Belimbing, located in my constituency, I was approached by 2 people. One middle aged man and his wife. The man asked me if this was a place to get the COVID19 vaccine. I told him that this was only for testing for COVID19. I asked him why he was so concerned about getting the vaccine since he looked relatively healthy. He told me that he was a GRAB driver and that he is fearful for his health since he has to interact with many passengers a day including many from red zones. I asked him why he was so afraid since passengers are supposed to observe the SOPs and wear a mask and not talk during their trip. He told me that many GRAB passengers DON’T follow the SOPs and there is not much he can do if they insist on taking off their masks while they are in the car. GRAB drivers don’t want to be given low ratings by their passengers.

I also asked his wife about her occupation. She told me that she stopped working after an accident damaged some nerves in her face. Although she looked normal, she said that the nerve damage she suffered makes it very hard for her to work. So this means that her husband, who is the GRAB driver, is the sole income earner in their household.

At the same time, it was reported last that the Coordinating Minister for the COVID19 vaccination rollout, Khairy Jamaluddin, had said that “frontline workers in manufacturing, construction, aviation, and oil and gas sectors, and Johoreans who need to commute to Singapore for work … may be prioritised for COVID19 vaccination from April 2021 onwards.[1]

I would like to call upon the Minister to consider categorizing GRAB / E-hailing / TAXI drivers as part of the economic frontliners, especially those in the red zone states which are still under MCO namely, Kelantan, Penang, Selangor, KL, and Johor.

At the same time, one of the feedback which we have received while conducting COVID19 vaccine registration exercises in Bangi was that some elderly people feel hesitant to register for the vaccine because they don’t have transportation to go to the vaccination center (wherever it may be)[2]. I would like to suggest that the Minister consider roping in GRAB / E-hailing / TAXI drivers to ferry these elderly residents (and also others who have mobility and transportation issues) to their respective vaccination centers when Phase 2 of the national vaccination rollout plan (PICK) begins on the 19th of April, 2021. This way, there can be a WIN-WIN situation involving the GRAB / E-hailing / TAXI drivers and also those who have or want to register for the COVID19 vaccination but do not have transportation to get to the vaccination centers.

(My only regret is that I didn’t take down the name and telephone no of the GRAB driver. So if you are a GRAB driver or someone from GRAB and are reading this, please reach out to me so that I can contact this gentleman who lives in Taman Bukit Belimbing, Kajang)