FINDING EXCITEMENT IN THE UBER AND GRAB ‘LIFESTYLE’
Young Malaysians enjoying the career freedom offered by ride-sharing services
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.
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Taxi drivers protesting against Grab in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, last year. Many youths are attracted to join the ride-sharing service.