KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — An industry group representing e-hailing drivers said they should also receive a one-off payment of RM600 cash aid from the government amid the global Covid-19 virus outbreak that has dampened tourism.

The Malaysia E-Hailing Drivers Association (MeHDA) said it was disappointed that e-hailing drivers were not categorised as those reliant on the tourism industry for their livelihood and their resulting exclusion from the category which the government would pay RM600 to.

“We feel that e-hailing drivers should also be categorised as recipients of this special assistance as we also serve tourists and other passengers nationwide, just like taxi drivers,” MeHDA chairman Daryl Chong said in a statement this evening.

He was referring to the RM20 billion economic stimulus package as announced by Interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad earlier, which included a RM600 one-off payment to taxi drivers, tourist bus drivers, tourist guides and registered trishaw drivers.

Chong said e-hailing drivers should receive the same treatment as those carrying out those four types of work as they were similarly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, urging the government to consider including e-hailing drivers in the economic stimulus package.

“The tendency of passengers to not go out unnecessarily due to the Covid-19 outbreak also affects the income of e-hailing drivers following lesser passengers whether tourists or locals, the same as for taxi drivers,” he said when touching on the negative impact on businesses related to tourism and retail.

“If e-hailing drivers are subject to the same rules to operate similar to taxi drivers, such as getting PSV licence and undergoing Puspakom inspections, we should not be set aside when the government provides financial assistance to taxi drivers. In the latest development, around 100,000 e-hailing drivers nationwide have obtained the PSV licence,” he said, referring to the Public Service Vehicle Licence.

The entire economic stimulus package has three strategies, namely to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, spurring rakyat-centric economic growth, and promoting quality investments.

The Covid-19 outbreak is well-contained in Malaysia with only two of 22 infected patients still warded and with the rest fully-recovered, but the economic incentives and measures announced today were deemed necessary due to the economy taking a hit from the spread of the disease globally.