Under scrutiny over contract with Selangor govt, transport firm linked to Hannah Yeoh’s spouse rejects cronyism claims

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — A transport start-up company accused of getting preferential treatment from the Selangor government today blasted its critics, calling the allegation that it was picked because a founder is married to a minister unsubstantiated and malicious.

Asia Mobiliti said it was one of two companies appointed to deploy a demand-responsive transit (DRT) system, and the appointments were made to avoid a monopolistic situation because only two companies in the country can provide the highly specialised service to date.

“Asia Mobiliti, a Malaysia Digital (MD) status company has been subjected to a recent online campaign by certain unidentified parties that have casted doubts on the process by which we were appointed,” the company said in a statement this morning.

“In the context of the Selangor Mobility appointment process, we understand the reasons given for awarding two companies instead of one. An open tender in this situation of a highly specialised new service and with only two qualified companies in Malaysia would have created a monopoly situation in the state.

“This would have stifled competitiveness and robbed the opportunity for the state to pilot the service in a real-world setting and assess the performance of the service providers over a reasonable period of time,” it added.

One of the company's founders is the spouse to Sports and Youth Minister, Hannah Yeoh, a former member of the Selangor state legislature and a member of the DAP, a leading component of the coalition governing the state.

The Selangor government announced the appointment of Asia Mobiliti and the second DRT provider, Badan Bas Coach Sdn Bhd, at a public forum organised by the Selangor state government with Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam and Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated on June 15, 2023.

The Selangor Mobility brand logo and zone announcement at the Selangor Smart City and Digital Economy Convention was later revealed on October 20, 2023.

Asia Mobiliti said it may exercise its legal options “where necessary in safeguarding our reputation and credibility”.

DRT is a relatively new technology that public transport advocates have touted to be a crucial solution to help users connect to major public transportation systems.

The system can provide flexibility to areas with lower ridership where fixed routes wouldn't be sustainable, filling in the gaps in traditional public transport especially for first-and-last-mile connections.

It is also efficient because it helps reduce wait times and optimise routes, making them potentially faster than traditional buses.

Asia Mobiliti said it is a pioneer of DRT in Malaysia, providing the system through Trek Rides.

A private pilot of the service was deployed in September 2021 in Petaling Jaya for relevant stakeholders and clients, and the company said its success led to Agensi Pengangkutan Awam Darat granting it an operating licence.

“We remain the only company with a made in Malaysia system, designed and developed by our Engineering & Technology team as part of our Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform, Trek,” it said.

Selangor Cabinet member Ng Sze Han said last Friday that both companies had presented satisfactorily to a state transport committee, which prompted the state to appoint them based on their experience in rolling out their proof of concept earlier.

Asia Mobiliti said the appointment is only for a period of nine months and required extensive investment from both service providers in terms of procuring vehicles, hiring drivers and continuous optimisation and development of the technology that powered the service.

“The state received the best value for its investment and provided the opportunity for two companies to prove themselves and design a new service for the state which is arguably the first of its kind state-program anywhere in South-east Asia,” it said.