FIND­ING EX­CITE­MENT IN THE UBER AND GRAB ‘LIFE­STYLE’

Young Malaysians en­joy­ing the ca­reer free­dom of­fered by ride-shar­ing ser­vices

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

FOR many Malaysians aged be­tween 21 and 23, driv­ing Uber and Grab tax­ies around Kuala Lumpur has be­come the ul­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence.

With their new and well-kept cars, and their craze for speed, they can take you any­where in the city sup­ported by a hand­phone, a re­li­able Waze ap­pli­ca­tion and a great at­ti­tude to­wards life.

What is even more in­ter­est­ing is the so­cial state­ment that these youth are mak­ing. They com­mu­ni­cate a zest for life that is rarely seen among our youth. They are open to chal­lenges and ac­cept the fu­ture with con­fi­dence. It is im­por­tant for them to strike out on their own with­out be­ing dis­suaded by adults and pre­vented from do­ing what they love. For many the world is their stage.

The Uber and Grab model of do­ing busi­ness has given them a new op­por­tu­nity to be self-re­liant: a gung-ho at­ti­tude, your money is your time, un­lim­ited courage and bound­less re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The front-seat sense of what is in­volved in be­com­ing an Uber or a Grab taxi driver and the im­pact on their lives, are re­lated be­low:

DRIVER NO. 1 is 21. He has a diploma qual­i­fi­ca­tion and started driv­ing for Grab quite re­cently. He has a deep love of mu­sic and singing. Dur­ing the taxi ride he very gladly and loudly played his lat­est sin­gle hit. Asked about his fam­ily back­ground he said he had five sib­lings.

One of his sis­ters has just com­pleted a de­gree pro­gramme at a pri­vate univer­sity. He is also into mak­ing short TV dra­mas and films.

He also re­vealed an en­trepreneurial spirit as he tried to sell a brand of herbal and health prod­ucts pro­duced by a com­pany man­aged by his mother. While in­tro­duc­ing the prod­ucts he held us mes­merised with his sales pitch. We were also asked to try out the cream as he con­tin­ued to chat away about the virtues of the prod­ucts.

DRIVER NO. 2 is 23. He was trained as an en­gi­neer in the oil and gas in­dus­try. He reg­is­tered as an Uber driver while work­ing in Ger­many to make ex­tra money. He is now with an oil and gas oper­a­tion in­volved in the North Sea oil area and is based in Malmo, Swe­den.

He ex­pressed a love for work­ing out at sea and said he wished to be­come a deep-sea diver in the oil in­dus­try once he had com­pleted his con­tract 10 years from now.

When pressed fur­ther on his am­bi­tion he told us he would like to es­tab­lish an oil in­dus­try div­ing school to teach divers to han­dle deep-sea engi­neer­ing prob­lems in Malaysia and the re­gion.

Fi­nally when asked why he was in Malaysia now he an­swered that he came back to get mar­ried. This he did just af­ter Chi­nese New Year to a girl ar­ranged by his par­ents. They had known one an­other ear­lier al­ready. Like him, his wife is also an oil and gas en­gi­neer. What a co­in­ci­dence and a good begin­ning we thought for the cou­ple in­deed.

DRIVER NO. 3 is older and fe­male. She brings to the job a vast knowl­edge of the coun­try’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem hav­ing worked as a regis­trar with a univer­sity in Kuala Lumpur. She de­cided to quit as she felt she was treated un­fairly by her for­mer em­ploy­ers.

She went in search of a new chal­lenge and is now putting her knowl­edge of ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties in the coun­try to good use. She helps her ex­pa­tri­ate taxi clients with their hous­ing prob­lems, chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion and other prob­lems they face as they set­tle down to life in Kuala Lumpur.

Lis­ten­ing to her made us re­alise that here was a woman who had found a new calling by de­cid­ing to take up the chal­lenge to switch jobs and trans­form­ing her ca­reer into some­thing more sub­stan­tial.

Com­mon in all the three cases are the qual­i­ties we ex­pect our youth to have once they are ready to take up adult life to­day. The Uber and Grab model of do­ing busi­ness may pro­vide them with some right di­rec­tions in man­ag­ing at­ti­tudes, time, courage and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

azhari@drazharikarim.com The writer is a re­tired Malaysian am­bas­sador, for­merly Univer­siti Sains Malaysia as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor, Univer­siti Te­knologi Mara lec­turer, and now fu­tur­ist thinker

They com­mu­ni­cate a zest for life that is rarely seen among our youth. They are open to chal­lenges and ac­cept the fu­ture with con­fi­dence. It is im­por­tant for them to strike out on their own with­out be­ing dis­suaded by adults and pre­vented from do­ing what they love.

FILE PIC

Taxi driv­ers protest­ing against Grab in Jalan Bukit Bin­tang, Kuala Lumpur, last year. Many youths are at­tracted to join the ride-shar­ing ser­vice.

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